By Alex Tisthammer / Fort Collins Nursery
Here’s an experience most avid gardeners can probably relate to: you’re enjoying a nice cup of tea or coffee on a summer morning, looking out into your beautiful yard and you realize nothing is blooming. The most successful perennial gardens have something blooming all the time, but this isn’t as easy as it sounds! There are some heavy hitters like Rozanne Geranium, Whirling Butterflies and perennial violas that bloom all summer, but most plants don’t. Plan your planting accordingly to get flowers all summer long, as well as supplying food for pollinators, hummingbirds and birds. Some perennials thrive in the cooler weather like lupine, peonies or bleeding hearts while others crave that intense heat like helianthus, hibiscus and sedum.
Here is a great list of 10 perennials that are blooming in May as well as brief descriptions of each plant. Another technique to have color and interest through the season is utilizing leaf texture and color. Incorporate red or chartreuse leafed perennials throughout your garden to draw the eye through. Add pops of color when your other plants are not blooming.
- Peonies- There are three types of peonies: Itohs, herbaceous and tree peonies. Itohs are hybrids between herbaceous and tree peonies, with sturdy stems and large uniquely colored flowers. They come in yellow, apricot, pink and lilac. The herbaceous peonies are smaller and come in the more traditional shades of pink, red, and white. Tree peonies are much slower growing, usually in purple, pink or red.
- Dianthus- Dianthus comes in many shades of red and pink and smell amazing, too. The flowers can be large with many petals, or small and delicate. They also come in a range of sizes, from low-growing groundcovers to two-foot tall specimens.
- Iris- These come in a rainbow of colors and sizes, some varieties bloom twice. The variegated form has purple flowers that smell like grape kool-aid!
- Pasque Flowers- Hairy, nodding flowers that will catch the early morning dew. An invaluable source of early-season food for honeybees and native bees.
- Rocky Mountain Columbine- The large, blue and white spurred flowers are nice for floral arrangements. A native flower that hummingbird and hawk moths love.
- Perennial Violas- Workhorses in the garden, they bloom May through fall frost and come in a range of colors. They also reseed.
- Chatahoochee Phlox- A groundcover Phlox with fragrant, light-blue lavender flowers with a darker center.
- Prairie Smoke Geum- Delicate nodding flowers with attractive fluffy seed heads, like clematis. Native and low water.
- Bonfire Euphorbia- Beautiful spring bloomer with striking burgundy foliage and sulfur yellow flowers.
- Lupine- Tall spires of pea-shaped flowers, the native is blue but many cultivars come in a range of colors.