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7 Perennials for Continuous Summer Blooms

Perennials for Continuous Summer Blooms

If there's one thing most busy gardens have in common, it's that something beautiful is always happening. That "something" usually refers to something in the flower.

1. 'Orange Vanilla Popsicle' Red-hot poker is a deer treasure

Clusters of dull orange spears rise from this plant's grassy leaves throughout summer and into fall, turning cream when they open. A delightful anti-deer treat, the 'Orange Vanilla Popsicle' is much duller in height than the variety. Red-hot poker appreciates the sun and takes drought with great pleasure. Well-drained soil is important in areas with high humidity, especially in the northern parts of its growing range, where winter wetness can lead to rot.

2. Knautia macedonica 'Thunder and Lightning'

It's pronounced "naughty-uh," but don't let the name deter you. 'Thunder and Lightning' makes up for its smaller stature than its peers with its unrestrained flowering exuberance. An extended stretch of mini-pincushions in vivid claret (early summer to fall) is supported by dreamy, creamy-colored foliage that forms the perfect foil throughout the growing season. Knautia needs cool nights in the fall, so it's best suited for northeastern climates. Deadhead will still encourage late-season flowering. This variety tends to reseed less than straight species.

3. Campanula tacimana 'Elizabeth'

Korean bellflower works well as a versatile landscape, and 'Elizabeth' is a particularly attractive option that shines in shade. Its glossy foliage is a bonus with pre-blooming, with cascading flowers up to 2 feet in shades of pink. This beauty blooms immediately from late spring to summer. Bellflowers can be rowdy, and instead of planting 'Elizabeth' where it can crowd others, use it around trees and shrubs where it will be contained. Deer-resistant Korean bellflower appreciates shade most in the warmer parts of its growing range.

4. Calamintha nepeta subsp. Nepeta 'Blue Cloud'

This small landscape begins in mid-summer with clusters of lavender-blue flowers that continue into fall. Although it comes with mint leaves, which can be seeded a bit if you're happy with it, Calamint doesn't run as well as other mints. It's a deer and drought-tolerant ground hugger that grows well with large, bold perennials. To clean it up a bit in late summer, 'Blue Cloud' calamine may benefit from cutting back.

5. Potentilla durberi 'Monarch's Velvet'

'Monarch's Velvet' Potentilla has spring flowers that are vivid cherry red in fall, each with a black eye. Unlike its woody cousins, you'll find this species of potentilla growing along waterways and in the cool, upland forests of the Southwest. However, like those distant cousins, it is relatively drought tolerant once established and rarely on the menu for deer. Afternoon shade is best in hot zones and sites.

6. Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Little Henry'

Native to central North America, sweet coneflower is a rustic spin on the typical "Susan." 'Little Henry' is a sweeter version of the tall cultivar 'Henry Eilers', but still has its best feature: yellow daisies with tubular petals. As with other black-eyed Susans, gardeners in deer country need to look for bright, late-season color. Unlike its relatives, it does not like dry soil.

 7. Vitex Agnus-custus 'Shoal Creek'

Pink flowers and fragrant foliage belie the hardiness of the pure wood, and 'Shoal Creek' is a tough customer. In warmer zones, it can be grown as a small tree, and it produces early and late flushes of pinkish-blue flowers. North of zone 7, cut it to the ground each winter and watch it bloom again in the dog days of summer. Drought and deer-resistant chaste tree makes a great addition to even the back of a very sun-baked border.

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