Tried and True Perennials for Public Spaces

Complete Landscaping Service is always on the lookout for new and interesting perennials to enhance the landscapes we install. Perennial flowers and plants provide bursts of blooms and colorful foliage that bring seasonal drama to a landscape year after year. Keep reading to explore the best perennials for full sun areas and the best perennials for shaded areas.

The public areas in which we work, such as neighborhood monument signs, common areas, parking lots, and parks, can present tough conditions that these perennial plants must withstand, often going long periods without supplemental watering and enduring foot traffic, deer pressure, or other challenges. In addition, we look for perennials with features such as long bloom times, showy foliage, clumping habits, and few maintenance needs. 

This is a lot to ask of any plant, but we have found many that fit the bill. Here are a few tried and true perennials we often include to create dynamic landscapes in these public spaces:

Best Perennials for Full Sun

Agastache foeniculum – Anise Hyssop

Mature height: 2-4 feet
Mature spread: 1.5-3 feet
Bloom Time: June to September

Anise Hyssop is a drought-tolerant perennial that can handle a wide range of soil and moisture conditions. It is a reliable bloomer that provides an eye-catching purple color throughout the summer and attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

Perennial- Anise Hyssop
Perennial- Butterfly Weed

Asclepias tuberosa– Butterfly Weed

Mature height: 1-2.5 feet
Mature spread: 1-1.5 feet
Bloom Time: June to August

Butterfly Weed tolerates dry and rocky soil well while still providing reliable flowers in mid to late summer. This perennial is particularly effective when planted in large groupings that provide eye-catching color and an important food source for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars.

Amsonia hubrichtii – Blue Star

Mature height: 2-3 feet
Mature spread: 2-3 feet
Bloom Time: April to May

Blue Star is a stand-out in the landscape not only for its delicate pale-blue flower clusters that hold all season long in the summer but also for its golden fall color. This perennial is very effective when planted in large drifts and adds a fluffy texture to the landscape.

Perennial- Blue Star
Perennial- Blue Star
Perennial- New York Ironweed

Vernonia noveboracensis – New York Ironweed

Mature height: 4-6 feet
Mature spread: 3-4 feet
Bloom Time: August to September

New York Ironweed is an underutilized, upright full-sun perennial that provides yearly height and surprising bright purple flowers from late summer to early fall. While the timing of this bloom presents much-needed aesthetic appeal during this time of year, it also provides an important food source for pollinators before they hunker down for the winter.

Penstemon digitalis – Beardtongue

Mature height: 3-4 feet
Mature spread: 1.5-2 feet
Bloom Time: May to June

Beardtongue occupies an often-neglected gap between spring and summer flowers. Since it begins to bloom later in the spring and persists through early summer, this perennial provides a seasonal bridge. While it does require some pruning to remove spent flower heads, this is generally a low-maintenance and well-behaved perennial.

Best Perennials for Shade

Perennial- Beardtongue
Perennial- Foam Flower

Tiarella cordifolia – Foam Flower

Mature height: 0.75-1 feet
Mature spread: 1-2 feet
Bloom Time: May

Foam Flower is a low-growing shade garden stand-out. This perennial prefers the loose soil of a woodland setting and dappled, bright shade. The small stature and slowly colonizing habit of foam flower provides an eye-catching bright green carpet in low light conditions.

Phlox stolonifera – Creeping Phlox

Mature height: 0.5-1 feet
Mature spread: 0.75-1.5 feet
Bloom Time: April to June

Creeping phlox slowly expands its colony each year and provides a mid-spring mass of purple-colored flowers. It prefers part shade conditions, growing well at the edge of shady spots, and moist but well-drained soil.

Perennial- Creeping Phlox
Perennial- American Coral Bells

Heuchera americana – American Coral Bells

Mature height: 1-2 feet
Mature spread: 1-1.5 feet
Foliage: Blue-Green

American Coral Bells stands out in the landscape for its reliably consistent blue-green foliage and interesting leaf shape. When planted in masses, this perennial adds essential texture and visual interest in a shade garden.

Polystichum acrostichoides – Christmas Fern

Mature height: 1-2 feet
Mature spread: 1-2 feet
Foliage: Evergreen

Christmas Fern is a solid performer in any shade garden. With its shiny, dark foliage, it adds texture and structure to what can often be a sparse landscape. Its fronds persist throughout the winter and brown slightly just before new fiddleheads emerge in early spring each year.

Perennial- Christmas Fern
Perennial- Cinnamon Fern

Osmunda cinnamomeum – Cinnamon Fern

Mature height: 2-3 feet
Mature spread: 2-3 feet
Foliage: Bright Green

Cinnamon Fern has an upright habit that adds height and movement to shady spots. When planted in large groups, the bright green foliage and cinnamon-colored fronds in the center can add an unexpected tropical look to any shade garden.

Incorporating the right perennials into your landscape not only enhances its beauty but also ensures long-lasting vibrancy and resilience, especially in public spaces where conditions can be demanding. At Complete Landscaping Service, we’ve curated a selection of tried and true perennials that thrive even in tough environments, providing bursts of color and texture year after year.

From the radiant blooms of Agastache foeniculum to the elegant foliage of Tiarella cordifolia, each plant we choose is meticulously selected to withstand the challenges of public areas while offering visual delight and ecological benefits. These perennials not only beautify our surroundings but also attract vital pollinators, fostering biodiversity and sustainability.

Ready to transform your landscape with these enduring beauties? Contact us today for expert guidance and personalized solutions. Let Complete Landscaping Service provide you with the green peace of mind that comes from knowing your outdoor spaces are in capable hands. Together, let’s create landscapes that captivate, inspire, and endure for years to come.