The University of Texas at Austin's Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends 109 perennials for New Jersey. These species are native to the state, available for purchase in New Jersey and accustomed to its climate. Of course, every garden has its own soil and sun conditions, so take this into consideration when selecting perennials for your garden. Perennials are a treat as they flower every year, but their blooming time is limited. Purdue University recommends incorporating early, mid and late bloomers in your garden so you have color all season.
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Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is a perennial that blooms in spring and early summer. This plant can grow up to 2 feet tall. Originally a woodland species, it grows vertically more than horizontally. Red columbine has elegant, compound leaves composed of leaflets that each have three lobes. It blooms gorgeous, bugle-shaped, drooping flowers. The exterior of each blossom is a deep pink or red with a yellow interior. Yellow stamens that look like mini antennae extend from the center of the flower. Plant red columbine is shady to partial shady areas. This plant prefers a well-drained soil composed of sand and limestone, rather than a humus-rich soil.
The flowers of bluebell bellflowers (Campanula rotundifolia) are the star of the plant. Bellflowers bloom from June until September and last for much of the season. The blossoms are bell shaped and dangle in various directions atop their thin, delicate stems. A cluster of bellflowers creates a multi-leveled carpet of blue. Plant this species in sun or shade; it prefers well-drained soils, but can be grown in almost any garden type, including a rock garden.
Cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata L.) is a perennial that is part of the aster family and may bloom from July to October. It is related to and resembles blackeyed susans except it has different coloring. Cutleaf coneflowers have bright yellow petals with green to brown centers. The plant may grow from 3 to 12 feet tall. Coneflowers are hardy, can be planted in sunny or shady areas and grow rapidly. Plant in a large space or control the growth if you want them to occupy a smaller space. You may need to use stakes to help maintain their vertical stature.
Chrysanthemum species, also called mums, are not native to New Jersey, but are popular perennials in the state. You can often find potted mums for sale in early fall to decorate your yard after summer blossoms have wilted away. It is easy to grow your own mums, which will will bloom in late summer and early fall. Their shapes, sizes and colors are various, from the white and yellow oxeye daisy to the fluffy white, yellow, orange and white varieties. Mums prefer being planted in areas where they will receive full sun. Every two or three years, mum clumps should be separated to prevent overcrowding and moved around the garden to prevent fungus infestation. It is also important to prune mums to encourage new growth. Other than that, they are easy to grow.