All perennials were not created equal. Some wonderful plants go above and beyond the call of duty, blooming for months, if not the whole summer and asking very little in return. Here are some more tried and true long blooming performers for your garden.
USDA Zones 3 - 9 - Bloom Span: 2-3 Months
Most people think of Nepeta as catnip (Nepeta cataria), a somewhat weedy garden plant. But there are many excellent ornamental Nepetas that will bloom throughout the summer, if deadheaded. Most have some shade of blue-lavender flowers and gray foliage. They are very drought tolerant and make a nice substitute for lavender, in areas where lavender won't thrive. Although not as attractive to cats as catnip, you may still find a cat or two rolling around in your plants.
GOOD CHOICES: Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant', Nepeta 'Walker's Low'Nepeta x faassenii 'Dropmore' (Sterile and doesn't need deadheading)
USDA Zones: 3 - 9 - Bloom Span: 3 Months
Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)
Rudbeckia are at home everywhere and many are native to various parts of North America. They prefers well-drained, somewhat lean soil and full sun. Deadheading will prolong bloom and cut Rudbeckia flowers will last a long time in water. With their flat landing pad petals, they are attractive to butterflies and the seeds will be eaten by the birds during the winter. Relatively long lived, Rudbeckias can be easily multiplied by division.
GOOD CHOICES: Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm"
USDA Zones 3 - 9 - Bloom Span: 3+ Months
Scabiosa (Pin Cushion Flower)
Scabiosa is a unique looking plant with a low growing rosette of narrow leaves and a profusion of gangly stems topped by pincushion flowers. They are relatively easily grown in average soil and full sun. Deadheading is a must for long bloom and general appearance. Divide plants every 3-4 years. You can also root the secondary stems you will see coming from the base of the plants.
GOOD CHOICES: Scabiosa caucasica 'Butterfly Blue', S. c. 'Pink Mist'
USDA Zones 3- 9 - Bloom Span: 2-3 Months
The taller sedums are unparalleled garden performers. Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is a near perfect plants, looking good for 4 seasons. Sedum flower buds are attractive long before they are fully in bloom and long after they have gone to seed, so there is no need to deadhead. They thrive in well-drained soil and full sun. If your plants tend to flop, they can be sheared back in early summer to form a bushier, sturdier plant. Sedums can go years without division, but can be propagated by stem cutting. Once the plant begins to thin out in the center, division is necessary.
GOOD CHOICES: Sedum 'Autumn Joy', S. 'Bertram Anderson', S. Madrona, S. 'Brilliant'
USDA zones 4 - 9 - Bloom Span: 3-4 Months
Tradescantia doesn't get much respect, probably because they can become a bit aggressive. However, they will readily bloom in partial shade and can be easily controlled by pulling young plants or by crowding them in with other plants. They have somewhat grassy like leaves with clusters of 3-petaled flower heads. Each flower lasts only one day, but there are so many buds the bloom period is quite long. They prefer cool, moist soil and full sun, but will accept partial shade in exchange for the cool soil.
GOOD CHOICES: Tradescantia ''Carmine Glow', T. 'Snowcap'
USDA Zones 3 - 9 - Bloom Span: 3-4 Months
Veronica spicata (Spike Speedwell)
Veronicas start blooming in the spring and keep going through to frost. The genus includes a broad range of plants, but V. spicata is most popular in gardens. The low growing dense foliage gives rise to narrow flowers spikes in blues, reds, pinks, whites and purples. Deadheading will keep them going all summer long. Drought tolerant, Veronica likes a well-drained soil.
GOOD CHOICES: Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue'
Did you miss the beginning of the list of long bloomers.