You asked for it and you got it: a list of the most-loved perennials for Zone 3.
These perennials are the stars of the garden, blooming year after year and delighting their owners every time. Pick these winners up at your nearest garden centre, or ask a friend with a more established garden if you can dig up a few.
And finally, if you’re someone who prefers to watch rather than read, here’s a shorter version of this post in video form:
best perennials for cut flowers
1. Asiatic Lilies
Asiatic Lilies come in every colour and combination imaginable and are easy to grow. Put them in a sunny spot, and they’ll flourish year after year.
I’ve had poor luck with Hydrangeas, but I know many others who’ve been successful. Look for a variety that can withstand prairie winters. Some good varieties include Strawberry Sundae and Limelight.
Like any other millennial, I am OBSESSED with peonies. In Saskatoon, I used to have no less than 8 plants in my yard (which is a lot for a small city backyard!). When I moved to the acreage, I planted a bunch of Coral Charm Peonies, and I also love a classic Sarah Bernhardt.
Delphiniums are stunning along the fence of your yard, as they grow to around 5 ft tall. Be sure to stake them or provide a cage for them if you plant them in a windy spot. Try the Pacific Giant mix for a beautiful range of colours.
Although the blooms tend to be short-lived, irises are a gorgeous addition to your garden. Irises come in many beautiful colours, not just the standard purple. They come in yellows, blues, and pinks, and some even have frills on them.
Lupins come in a variety of colours and are beautiful in floral arrangements. The standard variety for cut flowers is the Russel series.
7. Bee Balm
Good for the bees. Good for cut flowers. Make sure you look for long-stemmed varieties because some of them are shorter.
While Foxgloves are stunning, they are also poisonous. Hold off on planting them if you have small children or pets who tend to put everything in their mouths. Most varieties are actually biannuals, so know that once you plant them you will not get blooms until the second year. There are a few varieties that will give you blooms in the first year, but those are not perennials in Zone 3 as far as I know.
Heliopsis can grow quite tall, so put them in the back of your border. These flowers are a less-invasive alternative to Daisies.
My favourite time of year is in late August and early September when Goldenrod fills the Saskatchewan ditches. If you’re going to be a weed, you might as well be pretty. However, when I plant it in my own garden, I haven’t had a lot of success.
There’s a lot of discussion around foraging responsibly, so if you are going to use Goldenrod you should make sure it’s on your own property or you have permission to use it from the property owner. And never take more than 10% of what’s available in that area.
11. Globe Flower/Trollius
I discovered this perennial in my neighbour’s alleyway garden, and I was smitten. It looks like Ranunculus, but it’s a perennial. They come in orange and yellow but are unfortunately difficult to find at garden centres, so if you find one, grab it immediately!
Not all Rudbeckia varieties are hardy to Zone 3. The fancier varieties like the Sahara one pictured here can be overwintered if you cover them in mulch and have a slightly warmer microclimate.
best Shade-Loving perennials
Hostas are the stars of any shade garden. They come in many beautiful patterns, are slow to spread, and have beautiful white flowers. Have a bare spot with little to no sun? Hostas are your solution.
14. Bleeding Hearts
Whether you get them in white, soft pink, or classic dark pink, Bleeding Hearts are easy to grow and add colour to your shadiest spots.
15. Siberian Bugloss/Jack Frost
Heart-shaped leaves and dainty blue flowers? What’s not to love?
16. Ladies Mantle
Lovely lime-coloured flowers add interest to your shady spots. Ladies Mantle is a very easy perennial to grow and it works fantastic as a cut flower.
Ligularia can grow to around 6 ft tall, so place it along a fence! While it will grow in complete shade, it does better if it gets 3 hours of sunlight a day.
A lovely old-fashioned perennial with long-lasting blooms. Bergenias are one of the first perennials to bloom in the spring and are always a welcome sight. Their large leaves provide interest in a perennial bed long after the flowers are gone.
19. False Spirea/Astible/False Goat’s Beard
It goes by many names and is sure to bring colour to your shadiest spots. Pick one up in white, light pink, and dark pink.
best Controversial perennials
These picks made the most-regretted list, but they don’t have to be a mistake in your garden. Just make sure you keep these ones contained, or embrace the growth.
20. Baby’s Breath
The staple of florists everywhere. Baby’s Breath is really trendy to use, but perennial Baby’s Breath is actually a noxious weed and is illegal to plant in Canada. When I originally wrote this post, Baby’s Breath had not been classified as a noxious weed at that time. (Or if it was, I was unaware of it).
I thought I would leave it on this list as a warning for anyone looking to grow perennial Baby’s Breath. If you want to plant Baby’s Breath make sure you choose an annual variety. When in doubt, check the Latin name.
Daylilies come in every colour and combination imaginable. Avoid the orange ones pictured here if you want to avoid spreading.
Hollyhocks are stunning and tall flower that comes in many beautiful shades. They spread quickly, so keep them contained to one spot if you don’t want them to spread. Hollyhocks are biannual, so don’t expect to see flowers the first year. They will self-seed, and after that, they will be on a two-year rotation of seeds so you’ll have something blooming every year!
Yarrow is perfect for floral arrangements, but impossible to get out of your lawn once it spreads. The Western Yarrow variety is probably your longest blooming, but even if you get a fancier variety like Summer Berries they still bloom a long time.
Poppies make the controversial list only because they easily get out of control. They’re so pretty though that you probably wouldn’t mind if they did.
As of today, I have pulled at least 82 Ferns out of my backyard this year. No, I’m not exaggerating, and no, I’m not done. I personally hate Ferns, but I know that many other gardeners love them for their shady spots.
Update: I pulled out close to 400 ferns over 2 years. I know many of you adore Ferns, but I will forever not.
The Ferns I am specifically talking about are Ostrich Ferns and I would not recommend getting these. If you get any other variety of perennial ferns, you will probably enjoy them and have them for years to come.
Veronicas stay in bloom for most of the summer and look beautiful in floral arrangements. Just be cautious, as Veronicas can spread a lot and get out of control, depending on your soil.
Want to create a perennial garden that constantly blooms from spring to fall, without constant work? Here’s how…
Everything you need to easily create your own perennial garden with constant blooms. You’ll get an easy-to-follow system, along with 5 templates and 5 done-for-you plans, plus fun bonuses.
This gorgeous member of the onion family is sure to add interest to your yard. Most varieties are in purple but you can also find them in white and occasionally yellow.
28. Sea Thrift
Columbine comes in a wide range of colours, blooms for a longer period of time, and tolerates shade.
30. Liatris/Blazing Star
A must-have for visual interest and when you want to grow more native perennials. Liatris comes in both purple and white.
31. Achillea the Pearl
Achillea the Pearl’s sweet white flowers are so beautiful. You’ll want to add this stunner to your garden.
32. Blanket Flower/Gaillardia
The vibrant combination of orange and yellow adds some much-needed colour to your garden. Gaillardias are also a beautiful option when you’re trying to grow more native plants.
Sedums come in so many shapes, sizes, and flowering options that you won’t be able to pick just one. I personally love the Autumn Joy variety for late-season blooming.
34. Balloon Flowers/Platycodon
Balloon flowers literally have a flower within a flower. When closed they are in the balloon shape that gave them their name. Children adore this plant, so consider getting one if you have small children or grandchildren.
35. Maltese Cross
Maltese Cross is an unusual colour but it brings a fresh hit of summer fun to your perennial garden.
best perennials for Spring Blooms
Tulips can be found in almost every colour and combination. For more interest in your perennial garden, try varieties like Parrot Tulips and Double Blooming Tulips. There are many more varieties out there than the classic red and yellow! I still love the classic red and yellow though, and nothing else quite says spring to me.
Plant Crocuses in your lawn for an early hit of colour. Don’t worry, they’ll be done blooming by the time you actually have to mow. The Crocuses pictured here are wild Crocuses. If you want wild Crocuses, it’s best to get seeds from a company specializing in wild seeds and plants. Otherwise, there are many other domesticated varieties that would look just as lovely.
Step away from the classic bright yellow monstrosities of Daffodils and explore the many other beautiful varieties you can get in shades of cream, lemon, peach, and even slightly pink tones. Some of my favourite varieties are Replete, Apple Pie, and Golden Pearl.
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best perennial Shrubs
My mom’s Spirea has often been the victim of many floral arrangements. I personally like the variety that has pink flowers and lime-coloured leaves. They are beautiful at all stages with white flowers in spring, the classic lime leaves in summer, and then they turn a beautiful shade of red/green in the fall.
I have a feeling that if I owned a Weigela, it would also be the victim of many floral arrangements.
Update: I owned a Weigela at my Saskatoon house and it was a nice late-spring-early-summer-blooming shrub to take flowers from.
Purchase a Lilac for the beautiful scent of spring. Scratch that. Purchase three, so you can have one in white, light purple, and dark purple. The newer varieties have fewer suckers at the bottom of the shrub; however, the smell is not as powerful. I’m personally a fan of the older varieties.
Roses are beautiful but do require maintenance. Beginner gardeners should wait until they have a bit more confidence in their skills before purchasing one. If you’re in Saskatchewan, be sure to purchase one of the Morden or Canadian Sheild varieties developed for the Prairies.
43. Double Flowering Plum
These are the most beautiful pink bloomed trees of spring. You’ll definitely want to pick one up if you have the space.
best Edible perennials
Delicious and beautiful. Use chives in the place of onions in your recipes.
RELATED: Creamy Chive Dumpling Soup
45. Chocolate Mint
Unlike its cousin the mint plant, chocolate mint does not spread! Dry it for use in teas all winter long.
If you plant asparagus, don’t expect to eat a meal from it until three years later.
Sage is equally good in soups and stews as it is as a filler plant in a flower arrangement. It’s also quite hardy and can withstand frost to around -5°C/23°F.
Borage is an extremely useful plant for both edible and medicinal purposes. It makes a wonderful companion plant in the vegetable garden.
best perennial Groundcover
Many of these also work as plants that you can grow underneath a tree.
49. Creeping Phlox
A gorgeous filler plant that looks especially stunning in a rock garden.
50. Mother of thyme/creeping Thyme
Creeping Thyme is edible and will taste similar to mint. It’s also deer resistant.
51. Silver Mound
Silver Mound is maybe a bit of a stretch for a ground cover, as it does keep its clumped shape. However, it will spread. It’s super easy to grow and will survive the hottest summer days.
A lovely ground cover with beautiful small pink or yellow flowers. Rockfoil is extremely easy to grow on the prairies.
53. Hens and Chicks
Put Hens and Chicks in a spot where it seems like nothing else will grow and it gets a lot of sunlight. For example, the awkward stretch of ground between the sidewalk and the fence.
best perennial Vines
Perfect for growing over an archway. It tends to do better in east or west facing locations.
best perennials with Small Blooms
55. Smooth Prairie Aster
A beautiful perennial that is native to Saskatchewan. It’s one of my favourite flowers to see in the ditches in summer.
In my experience, Dianthus will come back for a few years and then tends to die out, but the flowers are so pretty that I still plant it.
57. Butterfly Weed
Some varieties have a tendency to be invasive, but this perennial is a must-have for attracting pollinators to your garden.
Aren’t all of these options beautiful? Just because you’re gardening in Zone 3 doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful garden. I’d love to know which flowers you’ll be planting this year and if there are any that should be on this list. Find me on Facebook and Instagram for more cold-climate, short-season gardening tips!
Want to create a perennial garden that constantly blooms from spring to fall, without constant work? Here’s how…
Everything you need to easily create your own perennial garden with constant blooms. You’ll get an easy to follow system, along with 5 templates and 5 done-for-you plans, plus fun bonuses.