Perennial plants attract gardeners who don't want to replant year after year. These plants may die back in the winter, but return each spring with new growth. Michigan's hot summers and cold winters mean some perennials fare better than others. Choosing the right plants can help make your landscaping or garden project successful.
Grape hyacinth, in the Muscari genus, are versatile bulbs that produce blue or white flowers. Unlike many common bulb species, grape hyacinths last for many years, producing a colony of bulblets. These plants resist cold temperatures, as well as browsers such as deer and rabbits. Grape hyacinth also naturalizes well, producing clusters of attractive flowers without much care. Just make sure to isolate them – these plants can become invasive quickly.
Blue Mist Spirea
This perennial produces delicate purplish flowers and grayish leaves. It also doesn't die back completely in the winter. Instead, it produces woody stems that stay partially alive through cold weather. Very harsh conditions damage blue mist spirea, though. Michigan Gardener suggests mounding soil directly over the plant's crown in early winter to insulate the stems. Remove soil in spring, and prune away any dead stems once the new growth gets established.
This native Michigan plant is hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 3. It produces bright red, orange or yellow flowers from late spring through late summer. As the name implies, butterfly weed is a favorite host for a variety of butterflies and their caterpillars. Unlike many introduced plants, gardeners may use butterfly weed without fear of its becoming invasive.
This European plant works both as an herb and a garden ornamental. Like blue mist spirea, its stems stay alive through the winter. Gardeners who wish to save this plant's aromatic blooms can cut them once the plant flowers and dry them in a warm place with low humidity. Many lavender plants produce a second, smaller flowering later in the year. Lavender requires little pruning; just cut off dead stems once new growth is apparent in spring.
Also called coneflower, this tall native perennial produces white, yellow, lavender or pink daisy-like flowers with a raised reddish-brown center. It blooms from late spring through late summer and prefers well-drained soils. Echinacea grows well in sun and partial shade and prefers dry soil. These flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, are popular in floral arrangements, and are commonly used in herbal extracts, teas and tinctures intended to boost immune function.
- In the Garden Online: Ten Favorite Long Blooming Perennials
- “Landscaping with Native Plants of Michigan;” Lynn M. Steiner; 2006
- University of Texas at Austin: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Echinacea Purpurea
- Photo Credit Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images