Perennial Flower Leaf Identification


Perennial flowers are those which, once planted, return and bloom every year thereafter. These flowers can be hard to identify in the early spring before they bloom when only their foliage is present as an identification tool. Knowing how to pick out a few of the most common perennial flowers by their leaves can be very helpful when adding to a summer flower bed in the early spring.

Day Lily

  • Day lily foliage ranges from blue-green to yellow-green. The individual leaves are long slender blades, shaped similar to the foliage on corn. These leaves typically grow in large bunches, and can grow up to 3 feet in length. Shorter leaves often stand perfectly erect, while longer leaves will fold over to create an arch. Foliage typically dies back completely during the winter months and reemerges in the spring.

Bearded Iris

  • Iris foliage emerges from the soil very early in the spring, long before the flower blooms. As they emerge from the ground, leaves will appear to overlap at their base, like blades on an oriental fan. The leaves are flat and rigid with sharp pointed tips. Depending on both variety and maturity, foliage may reach 36 inches in length. Healthy foliage is a bright shade of medium green.

Bleeding Heart

  • As the foliage of a bleeding heart first emerges from the ground it will be the same color that blooms will be later. That is to say that the emergent foliage on a plant that blooms pink, will be pink. As the foliage matures it will change to a soft blue-green color. Leaves are divided and appear on multiple stems, giving the plant a bush-like structure. Foliage is poisonous and may cause skin irritation if handled. These plants bloom in the spring and go dormant, losing both flowers and leaves, when temperatures get too high.

Butterfly Weed

  • Butterfly leaf foliage is slow to emerge in late spring. It is best to mark the location of the butterfly weeds at the time of planting to prevent accidental damage. Leaves are a dark green color and do not change color when entering dormancy in the fall. Foliage can reach 6 inches in length and is describes as "whorled" because of the curve to individual leaves. Leaves grow alternately from the plant's stem, from which has a harry texture.

Shasta Daisy

  • Daisies range in height from 10 to 36 inches depending on variety. Their foliage is generally a deep green. The individual leaves have jagged edges and a smooth surface. They are long and thin, reaching a maximum length of approximately 3 inches. Leaves grow alternately on the plant stem. In some regions, daisy foliage is considered evergreen.

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  • Photo Credit daisy daisy image by Deborah Durbin from
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