By Jocelyn Bonesteel
Spring is finally here! The weather is warmer, the days are a little longer, and the cold winter seems like a thing of the past. As we head into spring, Wasson Nursery starts getting questions about great plant options for our area. In this 4-part series, we will touch on some of our favorite plants for the landscape and how they can be used. This article will cover some of our most popular perennials. If you learn about something you like, you can pre-order them by visiting Wasson Nursery’s online store, shop.wassonnursery.com.
Many homeowners are scared to use perennials in more than minimal placements, as the desire to properly layer textures, color, and seasons can be overwhelming. While this layering can be stunning, as each season brings forth a different wave of plants, more recent breeding has placed more emphasis on longer lasting blooms or lengthening a bloom period. Some of our favorite selections make mixing perennials in with shrubs or even creating an entire perennial bed easy!
Size: 14” x 20”
Sun: Full Sun to Part Shade
Best Feature: Reblooming purple-blue flowers
Kitten Around Catmint, one of the smallest Catmints on the market, features purple-blue flowers that rebloom from early summer to fall. Their grey-green foliage is aromatic, releasing a minty scent when touched. This member of the mint family is just as hardy, but not nearly as aggressive as traditional edible mints. Use Kitten Around for some color in the front of your garden, or a larger variety near the back. Shop at Wasson Nursery for your Kitten Around Catmint.
Size: 8”-24” x 8”-18”
Sun: Full Sun to Full Shade
Best Feature: Variety of brightly colored, mounded foliage
Coral Bells are such a favorite of ours that we could not choose just one! Mostly known for being shade tolerant, Mostly know for being shade tolerant, some varieties of Coral Bells can thrive in full sun to full shade. Foliage can be larger or miniature, and cultivars are available in shades of yellow, green, orange, red, purple, and black. Their small flower shoot, blooming in late spring/early summer, attracts pollinators like hummingbirds. These dense mounds of leaves add texture and color to a perennial garden all season! Some of our favorites include Obsidian, Caramel, and Fire Chief. Shop at Wasson Nursery for your Coral Bells.
Size: 24”-36” x 30”
Sun: Full Sun to Part Shade
Best Feature: Red-tinged blades darken into the fall
Cheyenne Sky is a dense, more compact version of the Indiana native Switch Grass. Standing only 2’-3’ tall with its plumes, Cheyenne Sky also has some of the best coloration in cultivated Switch Grasses. Cheyenne Sky features tinges of red throughout the summer, with the blades developing more and deeper tones as the season progresses. Come late summer, the airy plumes develop, floating above the blades in tones of pink and tan. Cheyenne Sky is hardy, does not flop, and maintains its great vase-like structure well into the fall. Left up for the winter, this Switch Grass provides winter interest and foraging opportunities for local wildlife. Shop at Wasson Nursery for your Cheyenne Sky Switch Grass.
Size: 9”-12” x 12-24”
Sun: Part Shade to Full Shade
Best Feature: Shade tolerant green and white variegated foliage
Ice Dance Sedge is a true Wasson favorite, as this low maintenance grass can work its way into any garden! Short in stature, this dwarf grass is shade and moisture tolerant and does not even have to be cut back in the winter. Featuring grassy blades of green edged in white, the variegated Ice Dance Sedge offers texture and color contrast in a darker location. Shop at Wasson Nursery for your Ice Dance Sedge.
Size: 30” x 24”
Sun: Full Sun
Best Feature: Tall, purple blooms on red stems
Caradonna sets itself apart from other Sages with its graceful height, featuring long stems covered in purple blooms. The stems themselves are a burgundy/red, glowing against the green foliage underneath. Reblooming from May to September, Caradonna is a pollinator favorite and can be worked into both formal and informal garden beds. Shop at Wasson Nursery for your Caradonna Sage.
Size: 3”-24” x 10”-28”
Sun: Full Sun
Best Feature: Pollinator attracting blooms; hardy, textured foliage
Stonecrop is another Wasson favorite due to its hardiness and color range. Although they look like delicate succulents, Stonecrops are hardy and last well into the cool temperatures of fall. Available in a range of sizes and colors, they can mostly be divided into two groups: creeping and upright. Creeping varieties are lower growing, forming dense mats that can be divided and moved to another location. These are known best for their foliage, available in shades of yellow, green, red, burgundy, and dusky grey-blues. The upright varieties, mostly available in greens and burgundies, form small clumps that are best known for their late season flowers in all shades of pink, from pale baby to electric neon to maroon. The blooms not only last from August through some hard frosts, they also offer foraging opportunities for birds. Some of our favorite creeping varieties are Dazzleberry, Firecracker, and Lime Zinger, while we love Autumn Fire, Autumn Joy, and Neon for upright options. Shop at Wasson Nursery for your Stonecrop.