When it comes to summer planting, long-blooming perennials are all the rage this month. Little wonder since perennials can bloom from a few weeks to a few months a year, and with root systems that stay alive for several years, some for decades, they return bigger and better each blooming season.
Perennials have four blooming categories: spring, late spring/early summer, summer and late summer/fall. Victoria Dubose, owner of Bloomin’ Miracles in Jacksonville, said when it comes to perennials, as long as they are in season, you really can’t go wrong with these low-maintenance frontyard fillers.
According to Dubose, a popular pick right now with Bloomin’ Miracles customers is the Ice Plant — or to botanists, Lampranthus.
“It starts blooming in May and stays until the cold comes,” she said. “It’s succulent so it doesn’t need a lot of attention from the gardener to grow.”
The Ice Plant is a ground-covering plant that typically stays under a foot tall and spreads in 3-foot clumps, producing a blanket of leaves which secrete salt crystals that glimmer like tiny diamonds when hit by the sunlight, and color-popping, daisy-like flowers in shades of purple, red, pink, orange, yellow and even white. The purple shade in stock at Bloomin’ Miracles is by far the hardiest of the bunch, says Dubose.
As a succulent perennial, the Ice Plant has a thick stem and leaves that act as a reservoir, allowing them to survive in Southern climates.
“For us, where we live, succulents are great. They stand up well to our heat, drought, even our humidity,” explained Dubose. “They’re almost foolproof.”
Ice Plants require very little watering, and should be planted in a location with well-drained soil and full sun.
Another summer-long bloomer frequently requested at the nursery is the Drift Rose, which Dubose says is actually more like a shrub. “I’ve been telling folks for a couple of years now, it’s like the perennial border I’ve been dreaming of my whole life,” she said.
Drift Roses cross the toughness of full-size groundcover roses and free-flowing nature of miniature roses. Its peak blooming season stretches from spring to early winter, when it is covered in large clusters of beautifully painted flowers in a wide variety of colors. The shrubs grow 2-3 feet tall and will spread for 4 feet or more.
Besides being easy on the eyes, Drift Roses are also easy on the gardener. Plant in a location with full sun and these low-maintenance roses will do the rest of the work for you.
“They require very little care and plus, they’re fragrant,” said Dubose. “To me, they are absolutely phenomenal.”
Green thumb or not, achieving a picture-perfect summertime lawn is within reach. Incorporating long-blooming perennials into the garden will not only wow the neighbors, but also allow the gardener to spend more of summer out of the topsoil and into the sunlight.