Ask the Expert!

Ask an Expert

By Emily Lannan, Landscape Designer at Chakarian Farm Greenhouses

Q: What are your suggestions for useful Perennials in our hardiness zone (5) ?

A: It can be a daunting task to decide where to invest your time and money when it comes to Perennials. There is an overwhelming amount of plant material to choose from and more being introduced every year. For New England Gardeners the most rewarding type to plant in our harsh climate are the category of Herbaceous Perennials; plants that die back down to the ground in winter to reemerge fresh from the base the following spring.

Here we offer a handy list of my favorite Perennials to use, based on their ideal growing conditions so the right plant can thrive in the right place with less effort .

A Guide to Pairing Perennial s Perfectly

Perennials work well together when grouped by similar sun and soil needs, creating less work for you and less waste when watering. Once you have identified the sun exposure and soil conditions that you have in your garden , this list can be implemented and you have only to pick flowers and foliage that appeal to you. These collections provide synchronized blooms with appeal based on the ir color scheme as well as staggered season al interest throughout the growing year.

To help you decide their placement, we have indicated height expectations by abbreviating Back of the border (B), Middle of the border (M) or Front of the border (F).

Sunny Selections for Swampy Soil


This Patriotic planting includes spring, summer and fall flowers in red, white and blue.

Monarda Bee BalmGardenview Scarlet (B), Anemone Windflower Honorine Jobert‘ (B), Gentiana ‘True Blue’ (M) Polemonium Jacob’s Ladder ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (M) & Astilbe Ostrich FernFanal (F )


All season interest can be achieved with this quartet.

Eupatorium Joe Pye Weed ‘Pink Frost’ (B), Tall Garden Phlox Coral Crème Drop‘(B)

Penstemon Beardtongue ‘Dark Towers’ (M) & Aubrieta Rock Cress ‘Aubrey Red & Purple’ (F)


Sunny Selections for Sandy Soil


The Spring time bloom of the False Indigo and Icelandic Poppy is eclipsed in the summer to fall by Russian Sage & Coneflower in a complimentary color palette of mostly blue and orange.

Baptisia False Indigo ‘Grape Taffy (B) , Perovskia Russian Sage ‘Little Spire’ (B) , Echinacea Coneflower ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ (M), Asclepias tuberosa Butterfly Weed (M), Papaver Icelandic Poppy ‘Champagne Bubbles’ (F) & Linum Flax ‘Sapphire’ (F)


A primary color palette makes this trio an instant classic .

Echinops Sea Holly ‘Big Blue’ (B), Heliopsis False Sunflower ‘Loraine Sunshine’ (M)


& Dianthus Pinks ‘Vampire’ (F)

Vibrant red hued flowers and foliage create a bold advancing color scheme.

Vernonia Ironweed ‘Iron Butterfly’ (B), Achillea Yarrow Sirensong Laura’ (M), Verbascum Mullein ‘Lavender Lass (M), Pulsatilla Pasque Flower ‘Rote Glocke (M), Sedum cauticola Stonecrop Likadense (F) & Euphorbia Cushion Spurge ‘Bonfire’ (F)  



Shady Selections for Sandy Soil


Another Patriotic planting that has rugged summer characters like Cinqufo il and Harebell taking the stage after their spring counterparts Bleeding Heart and Columbine fade away.

Aconitum fischeri Monkshood (B), Aquilegia Columbine ‘Cardinal’ (M), Dicentra Bleeding Heart ‘Alba’ (M), Potentilla Cinquefoil Monarch ‘s Velvet‘ (M), Campanula Scotch Harebell Thumbell Blue’ (M), & Ceratostigma Leadwort (F)


This trio can make a merry moongarden while still impressing us in the light of day.

Actaea Snakeroot ‘Brunette’ (B), Epimedium Barrenwort Sulphureum (M) & Brunnera Siberian Bugloss ‘Sea Heart (F)


All varieties have been picked for their long bloom time and low maintenance good nature. Some are additionally n ative, which means they are adaptable but non- invasive . New and improved selections, as well as tried and true but underused heirlooms are showcased. Each collection provides prime pollinator support with seedheads for birds and pollen for butterflies and bees.

Color has more impact when planted in groups of at least 3-9 of the same variety. Odd numbers in waves help your eye move throughout the garden, while also attracting butterflies more effectively as a solid mass.

Happy planting and be sure to make time to sit back and enjoy your efforts!

Want more information on what Emily can do for you?  Feel free to fill in the contact information here!