Perennials that reach 3 feet or more in height include grasses,
ferns, herbs and other herbaceous ornamental plants. These are
soft-tissue, or non-woody, plants that generally die back to the
ground during the winter season. During the growing season,
these plants add interesting form, texture and color once most
of the trees and shrubs have flowered.
Perennials have a range of bloom times, allowing a garden to
change color throughout the season. Think of the many gardens in
our area whose entire moment of glory comprises rhododendron
flowers in spring. This may be followed by a planting of
geraniums, dusty miller and petunias in the summer if the
gardener is especially motivated.
The following list should give a gardener some idea of the
diversity and sizes that are available. All of those listed
below are deer-resistant:
SUNNY AREAS OF THE GARDEN
Arundo donax ‘Peppermint Stick’
– If one is looking for a very tall grass that can act as a
privacy screen or for a tall specimen in a mixed border, this is
the plant. It can grow 7 to 12 feet high and 5 to 8 feet wide.
The wide, strappy leaves are colored with cream, sage green and
dark green stripes; purplish-brown plumes appear in late summer.
Grow in average, well-drained soil in full sun (for best
performance). This cultivar in not considered to be invasive.
Eupatorium fortunei ‘Pink Frost’
– an unusual Joe-Pye weed with strongly toothed foliage that is
green with a creamy yellow edge. In late summer, small heads of
rich pink flowers appear. Grows to 3 feet tall and wide. Does
well in average, moist, well-drained soil in full sun.
Butterflies love the flowers.
Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’
– an upright perennial that forms dense, bushy, slowly spreading
clumps, growing 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. The dark green,
arrow-shaped leaves are topped with crimson blossoms up to 6
inches long. It has a very long blooming period, starting in the
summer. This persicaria is considered to be a vigorous but
noninvasive perennial. Grow it in average, well-drained soil in
– This salvia forms an airy clump that can grow to 6 feet tall
and 3 feet wide. In late summer, gorgeous azure-blue flowers
with white highlights top the plant. Grow in moist, well-drained
soil in full sun. This plant is ideal for the back of a sunny
border and attacts butterflies.
Vernonia angustifolia ‘Plum Peachy’
– Also called narrow-leaf ironweed, it grows 3 to 4 feet tall
with an equal spread. In late summer, the narrow green leaves
are topped with 8-inch-wide branched, airy flower heads of dark
purple. Grow in average, well-drained soil in full sun. It is a
nice, late-blooming perennial for a sunny border.
Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Lavender Towers’
– This regal perennial grows 4 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet
wide. Grow in moist, fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. In
summer, the whorled green foliage is topped with long spikes of
pale purple flowers for an extended period of time.
Veronicastrum adds a nice vertical structure to the garden.
SHADY AREAS OF GARDENS
Actaea simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’
– Also called bugbane, this beautiful perennial has deep
purple-black foliage. In early fall, fragrant cream-colored
bottlebrush flowers form on tall, wand-like stems. The plant can
reach a height of 3 feet or more with a similar spread. Grow in
moist, organically rich soil in partial shade. An underplanting
of a groundcover with yellow/gold foliage will add pizzazz to
the dark foliage.
Aruncus dioicus var. kamtschaticus
– This goatsbeard is a native of Japan. It produces a stalk of
pinnate foliage topped with wispy, white, astilbe-like flower
plumes in the summer. The plant can reach a height of 4 feet or
more with a similar spread. It does well in partial shade in a
moist, well-drained woodland environment.
Dryopteris x australis
– Also known as dixie wood fern, it has sturdy, coarse fronds
that form a broad clump with an upright habit. It grows 3 to 4
feet tall with a 2- to 3-foot spread. Grow in moist, organically
rich soil. Makes an excellent backdrop for other shade-loving
– This perennial forms a large clump of palm-like foliage that
is topped with dark purple stems bearing golden-yellow blooms in
the summer. It can reach a height of 4 to 6 feet with a spread
of 2 to 3 feet. Grow in partial shade in a constantly moist,
organically rich soil. Provides a stunning effect when clustered
in groups of three or five.
– Also known as giant Solomon’s seal, it grows 3 to 5 feet tall
and 2 to 3 feet wide. Grow in average, moist, well-drained soil
in part to full shade. In spring, bell-shaped, greenish-white
flowers dangle from underneath the arching stems. This plant
slowly spreads by rhizomes to form colonies. A wonderful
perennial for a woodland garden.
– This large perennial grows 3 to 6 feet tall and wide. It has
palmate, wrinkled leaves that can be 2 feet wide. In mid-summer,
2-foot-long, upright flower spikes form with white or pink
florets. Grow in humus-rich, consistently moist soil in partial
shade. A great perennial for a moist, woodland area.
Some newer Hydrangea