11 Herbaceous perennials to add to your garden

Why plant herbaceous perennials?

Herbaceous perennials are valued and praised by gardeners for their resilience. Few gardens are without at least one perennial plant. Many are easy to grow and can reward you for years (or decades) to come.

There are many benefits to planting herbaceous perennials, here are a few:

  • They attract pollinators and beneficial insects
  • Herbaceous perennials will return yearly
  • Many of them can self seed or be divided giving you more plants
  • They are a cost effective way to make a gorgeous space with less maintenance


What is a perennial?

A perennial is a plant that lives for three or more years and continues to grow after reproduction. Simply put, perennials will return year after year and some can even live hundreds of years.

There are two types of perennials: woody and herbaceous.

Woody perennials are just how they sound– woody! Their stems have more texture than herbaceous perennials and do not die back in winter.

Herbaceous perennials have frost-tender stems that die back in winter and then regrow in spring and summer. This cycle repeats yearly for as long as the plant lives.

What is an annual?

An annual is a plant that grows vegetation, flowers, and seeds, and dies off in a single year. Annuals may spread enough seed to return the following year, but it’s not always a guarantee.

What is a biennial?

A biennial is a plant that grows vegetation the first year and in the second year it flowers, seeds, then dies off. Some common biennials are carrots, foxgloves, and hollyhock.

How are herbaceous perennials different from woody perennials?

Herbaceous perennials have vegetation that dies, while the roots remain alive. Herbaceous perennial plants will regrow their vegetation the following year.

Woody perennials have stems that do not die in winter. Instead, their stems grow a little more each year. Technically, shrubs fall into this category (even though we don’t categorize them as perennials).

Why do I need to know what zone I live in?

It's important to know what zone you live in so you are able to make the best decision when buying plants. If you end up buying plants that are perennial in other zones, but not yours, it can be unpleasant to discover that they didn't regrow the following year.

Knowing your zone helps you make the right plant purchasing choices. This saves you from having to re-purchase or replace plants. Knowing your zone means that your time and money will be well spent!

Where can I find herbaceous perennials?

Most nurseries have herbaceous perennial plants for sale, but they can be tricky to track down. Because the majority of nurseries profit from selling annuals, few offer a wide array of options.

Here at Tennessee Nursery, we specialize in growing and selling native perennials. If fact, 94% of our stock is made up of native plants!

Growing native plants increases food supplies for butterflies and other pollinators. Additionally, it encourages the presence of beneficial insects for a more balanced ecosystem. 

List of herbaceous perennials:

Ajuga Reptans

Ajuga Reptans plant

Ajuga reptans is a herbaceous perennial that can tolerate a wide range of soils. It makes for an excellent groundcover and looks great in containers.

Zones: 3 to 9
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: up to 8 inches
Water: Average
Best for front of borders, containers, and as a groundcover

Check out the Ajuga Reptans product here


Bellflower plant

Bellflower plant
Bellflower plant is an uncommon herbaceous perennial and is not often found in typical gardens. But, it looks phenomenal in woodland and alpine gardens with its tiny ribbon-like petals.

Zones: 4 to 9
Sun exposure: Part sun to part shade
Mature height: up to 2 feet
Water: Average
Best for alpine gardens, woodland gardens, front of borders, and containers

Check out the Bellflower Plant product page here

Blazing Star

Blazing Star

Blazing star is one of those show-stopping plants that neighbors and friends can't help but ask, "where did you get that?" Blazing star is a tall grower and does best in large gardens or in the back of a border where it can stand out.

Zones: 3 to 9
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: 3 to 6 feet
Water: Average
Best for the back of borders, pollinator gardens, and cottage gardens

Check out the Blazing Star product page here

Blue Vervain

Blue Vervain plant

Blue vervain is a herbaceous perennial that pollinators are immediately drawn to. Its spires of purple flowers look good in meadows and cottage gardens alike.

Zones: 3 to 9
Sun exposure: Part sun to part shade
Mature height: 2 to 6 feet
Water: Average
Best for the back of borders, backgrounds, and pollinator gardens

Check out the Blue Vervain product page here

Foam Flower

Foam Flower plant

This plant can grow in many soil types as long as it gets plenty of shade. Foam flower has fuzzy-looking flowers that stand in spikes above its foliage. 

Zones: 3 to 8
Sun exposure: Full shade
Mature height: up to 2 feet
Water: Average
Best for the middle of borders, woodland gardens, and shaded gardens

Check out the Foam Flower product page here

Geranium

Wild Geranium Plant

The herbaceous perennial geraniums are native to North America and grow easily in most zones. Their delicate flowers bloom in a bright purple color. Additionally, they have eye-catching foliage. What could be better?

Zones: 3 to 8
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: up to 2 feet
Water: Average, tolerates poor soils
Best for woodland gardens, borders, and containers

Check out the Geranium product page here


Goat’s Beard

Goat’s Beard Plant

Goat's beard is a herbaceous perennial with fronds of creamy white flowers. It has an almost unearthly appearance when in bloom. Beneficial insects love this plant. 

Zones: 3 to 7
Sun exposure: Part sun to part shade
Mature height: up to 3 feet
Water: Average to moist
Best for the middle of borders, backgrounds, and pollinator gardens

Check out the Goat's Beard product page here

Goldenseal

Goldenseal plant

Goldenseal gets its name for appearing like a wax seal. It is a low grower and makes for an excellent addition to any woodland garden.

Zones: 3 to 7
Sun exposure: Part sun to part shade
Mature height: up to 12 inches
Water: Average to moist
Best for borders and woodland gardens

Check out the Goldenseal product page here

Jacob’s ladder

Jacob’s ladder plant

Jacob's ladder is an easy to grow, low maintenance plant. The flowers of this herbaceous perennial sway in the breeze, perched atop their tall stems. Jacobs ladder has a spreading habit and will fill in its area nicely. 

Zones: 3 to 8
Sun exposure: Full shade
Mature height: up to 3 feet
Water: Average to moist
Best for woodland gardens and alpine gardens

Check out the Jacob's Ladder product page here

Jewelweed

Jewelweed plant

The iconic jewelweed is a staple of many people's childhoods. The seed pods explode when gently squeezed. To have a plant that's both entertaining and beautiful could make any gardener happy!

Zones: 3 to 11
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: 3 to 5 feet
Water: Average to moist
Best for pollinator gardens, woodland edges, and natural borders

Check out the Jewelweed product page here

Yellow Trillium

Yellow Trillium plant

Yellow trillium is a herbaceous perennial that belongs in a Vincent Van Gough painting. Its patterned leaves and mellow hues add serenity to any garden. aside from its good looks, it is easy to grow and take care of.

Zones: 4 to 9
Sun exposure: Part sun to part shade
Mature height: 8 to 14 inches
Water: Average
Best for use as a groundcover, front of borders, woodland gardens, and alpine gardens

Check out the Yellow Trillium product page here

 

Cost-effective Herbaceous Perennials and Herbaceous Perennial Groundcovers make gardening easy and enjoyable. There are many options to choose from and it's easy to find plants that will suit your exact needs. 

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions! We love to talk gardening with anyone and everyone.

Foam Flower - TN Nursery

Foam Flower

Foam Flower is a perennial plant with delicate, frothy spikes of white or pinkish blooms and deeply lobed, attractive foliage resembling foamy. It is a beautiful and beneficial plant with numerous advantages in landscaping projects. This herbaceous perennial belongs to the Saxifragaceae family and is admired for its delicate bloom spikes and attractive foliage. One of the primary benefits of incorporating it into landscaping is its captivating appearance. Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia), the Allegheny, is a gorgeous spring wildflower with feathery white spires that look lovely in sun-dappled gardens. With time, its foliage will form colonies with an excellent ground cover in shady spots. Where Foam Flower Can Be Found  It is native to wooded areas in eastern North America. This perennial can be found on seeps and stream banks, by creeks, in clearings, and under maple, hemlock, and white cedar trees. Along the eastern coast, it starts blooming in mid-March and continues to blossom through April. It owes its name to the sprays of tiny white to pinkish blooms that cover its three- to four-inch-long racemes. These delicate blossoms float around the tips of their long, graceful stems, which rise one to three feet above mounds of low-growing leaves. After it fades, the plant's foliage stays lush and glossy. The plant's bright green leaves grow up to four inches wide and usually have three to five lobes. The leaves' shape, color, and pattern can vary depending on the cultivar. They may stay evergreen in warmer climates, but their leaves and rosettes often turn red and bronze in the fall when temperatures cool down. Foam Flower Loves Shade Tiarella cordifolia brings soft, gentle intrigue to shady spots in your landscape. These blooms work beautifully in ornamental, wildflower, and woodland gardens beside ferns and blooms like Solomon's seal, dwarf crested iris, and bluebells. It adds a magical quality to small and mass plantings, grows under trees, and suits spacious pots and planters well. It also makes a lovely border or ground cover. It can be propagated by dividing and replanting the roots in late fall or starting from seed indoors, around ten weeks before the last spring freeze. Once the frost has parted, you can plant the seedling outside. It lures bees and other pollinators to your landscape, making them a valuable addition. Some small mammals eat its seeds for nourishment. Foam Flower Adds Whimsical Charm To Your Garden  Planting foam flowers will add whimsical charm to your springtime garden. Once established in your landscape, you can enjoy their showy blooms for years.

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Wild Geranium - TN Nursery

Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium is a native perennial plant with deeply lobed, palmate leaves and delicate, pink to lavender flowers that resemble small crane's bills. It is often found in woodlands and meadows and offers several positive landscaping uses. Its natural beauty, adaptability, and ecological benefits make it a valuable addition to gardens and naturalistic landscapes. Wild geranium is proof that great things can come in small packages. Its flowers may only be about an inch, but their delightful display always wins smiles. Interestingly, this plant offers showy leaves and blooms. Characteristics Of Wild Geranium Formally known as the geranium maculatum, these woodland perennials produce hairy, unbranched stems that can stretch up to 24 inches in height. They are generally either green or reddish. The visually compelling leaves are vibrant green, toothed, and deeply palmately lobed. Most feature five lobes, but some have seven. These leaves measure between three and six inches in length and width. The leaves at the bottom are larger and have coarse hairs. Those at the top of the plant are more delicate and have finer hair. What Do the Flowers of Wild Geranium Look Like They bloom in late spring or early summer. Each upright stem produces a cluster of two to five blooms. The saucer-shaped flowers generally measure one inch in size but can reach up to three inches. They are composed of five petals. In addition, they have ten yellow stamens and five green sepals that encircle their pistils. What Color Blooms Does Wild Geranium Produce They are in shades of pink or lavender. However, whites, blues, reds, and burgundies are also possible. While the flowers may appear solid at first glance, a closer look will often reveal that darker lines run from the bloom's center to the edge of the petal. Many popular flowers have multiple names, and these gorgeous gems are no exception. Why are they called cranesbills? The explanation may seem hard to spot, but a look at their picturesque seed pods can be revealing. After Wild Geraniums bloom, they produce a charming fruit capsule. It has a long, central column, which imaginative people say resembles a crane's bill. Five basal cells with seeds form the rest of the crane's head. Colorful and full of cheer, wild geraniums are fantastic additions to any garden. They work well in mass plantings and borders and attract pollinators, butterflies, and songbirds.

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Goat's Beard Plant - TN Nursery

Goat's Beard Plant

Goat's Beard Plant is recognized for its feathery plumes of small, creamy-white flowers atop tall, upright stems and fern-like foliage, which add a graceful touch to gardens and landscapes. It is a charming and beneficial type with several advantages in landscaping projects. This perennial belongs to the Rosaceae family and is admired for its striking plume-like flowers and attractive foliage. One of the primary benefits of incorporating it into landscaping is its captivating appearance. The whimsical, fun aesthetic of the Goat's Beard Plant makes it a lively contribution to any landscape. It is a welcome addition to any home or commercial garden, with striking fern-like foliage reminiscent of a goat's beard. Goat's Beard Plant Is Easy To Plant Landscaping does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. By picking the right ones, you can easily enhance any landscape. Thanks to the fluff-like flair of this perennial flower, you can add a dash of eye-catching style to your lawn without the need for extensive digging or hardscaping. Scientifically known as Aruncus dioicus, this blossom is perfect for adding elegance, grandeur, and effortless sophistication to a garden. Goat's Beard Plant Can Reach 6 Feet Tall With an impressive height of 3-6 feet, the Arancus dioicus gives your garden an earthy, magical feel. Its flowers bloom in a rich cream color on groups of clustered branches; though delicate, they are unmistakable and sure to capture anyone's attention as they stroll through your garden. On a sunny evening in summer, these flowers, often called bride's feathers, boast plume-like foliage that sway in the breeze. You'll usually find them growing in woodland areas, forests, and meadows. For gardeners dreaming of a natural, wild feel for their landscape, this is a marvelous addition to their botanical collection. In addition to their gorgeous blossoms, these flowers also sport strong sets of leaves that range from large to small, raising the stem and creating visual depth and fullness. Grouped, these flowers can form a gorgeous family of blossoms that enhance any landscape. Partnered with other flowers, particularly those in vibrant blue, orange, and pink hues, they are breathtaking features in any scenery. Goat's Beard Plant Blooms May To June Goat's Beard Plant flowers bloom from May through June, offering a beautiful display of plush, airy blossoms. Easy to grow and maintain, they are often popular among gardeners who like meadow-inspired flora and have large spaces they wish to fill with native species.

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Goldenseal Plant - TN Nursery

Goldenseal Plant

The Goldenseal Plant is a woodland perennial herb with distinctive lobed leaves and small, greenish-white flowers that give way to bright red berries. It is valued for its properties and has several advantages in landscaping projects. This perennial belongs to the Ranunculaceae family and is renowned for its medicinal properties and striking appearance. The Goldenseal Plant is popular with gardeners for its foliage and flowers. Its botanical name is Hydrastis Canadensis, but it's also called Yellowroot, orangeroot, yellow eye, ground raspberry, and yellow puccoon. It's native to North America and can be found across Vermont into Georgia and as far southwest as Arkansas. It's also grown in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hydrastis Canadensis is part of the buttercup or Ranunculaceae family, and it gets many of its names from its yellow or golden rhizomes and pale yellow sap. Unique Characteristics of Goldenseal Plant It reaches a height between six and 20 inches. It's characterized by its tiny white flowers that are comprised of stamens and pistols rather than petals. The flowers typically bloom in May and are framed by two leaves with three to seven lobes. The Hydrastis Canadensis is categorized as a perennial herb that develops small, red berry-like fruit. In nature, it's typically found in wooded forests, along hillsides, and in valleys. Attract Birds and Bees with Goldenseal Plant Birdwatchers and individuals looking to create gardens that benefit insects will appreciate it. Hydrastis Canadensis primarily attracts birds, squirrels, and bees, especially honey bees. Squirrels, birds, and other small animals love to eat the berries and seeds that form in late summer. It thrives in shady areas. Gardeners will have the best success planting it around and under trees and large shrubs in shadier areas of their yards. It also works well in herb and flower gardens. Where To Plant Goldenseal Plant Gardeners prefer to plant Hydrastis Canadensis around sugar maple trees, walnut trees, oaks, basswood, white ash, and poplars because it grows well in places without direct sunlight. Additionally, it does well near trout lilies, bloodroot, mayapples, and spring beauties. Goldenseal Plant offers many benefits to home gardeners. It's beloved for its white flowers, yearly blossoming, and ability to grow in areas where other flowers may fail to thrive, like under large shade trees. Hydrastis Canadensis also does well in flower gardens and birdwatching gardens.

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Goldenseal Plant - TN Nursery

Goldenseal Plant

The Goldenseal Plant is a woodland perennial herb with distinctive lobed leaves and small, greenish-white flowers that give way to bright red berries. It is valued for its properties and has several advantages in landscaping projects. This perennial belongs to the Ranunculaceae family and is renowned for its medicinal properties and striking appearance. The Goldenseal Plant is popular with gardeners for its foliage and flowers. Its botanical name is Hydrastis Canadensis, but it's also called Yellowroot, orangeroot, yellow eye, ground raspberry, and yellow puccoon. It's native to North America and can be found across Vermont into Georgia and as far southwest as Arkansas. It's also grown in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hydrastis Canadensis is part of the buttercup or Ranunculaceae family, and it gets many of its names from its yellow or golden rhizomes and pale yellow sap. Unique Characteristics of Goldenseal Plant It reaches a height between six and 20 inches. It's characterized by its tiny white flowers that are comprised of stamens and pistols rather than petals. The flowers typically bloom in May and are framed by two leaves with three to seven lobes. The Hydrastis Canadensis is categorized as a perennial herb that develops small, red berry-like fruit. In nature, it's typically found in wooded forests, along hillsides, and in valleys. Attract Birds and Bees with Goldenseal Plant Birdwatchers and individuals looking to create gardens that benefit insects will appreciate it. Hydrastis Canadensis primarily attracts birds, squirrels, and bees, especially honey bees. Squirrels, birds, and other small animals love to eat the berries and seeds that form in late summer. It thrives in shady areas. Gardeners will have the best success planting it around and under trees and large shrubs in shadier areas of their yards. It also works well in herb and flower gardens. Where To Plant Goldenseal Plant Gardeners prefer to plant Hydrastis Canadensis around sugar maple trees, walnut trees, oaks, basswood, white ash, and poplars because it grows well in places without direct sunlight. Additionally, it does well near trout lilies, bloodroot, mayapples, and spring beauties. Goldenseal Plant offers many benefits to home gardeners. It's beloved for its white flowers, yearly blossoming, and ability to grow in areas where other flowers may fail to thrive, like under large shade trees. Hydrastis Canadensis also does well in flower gardens and birdwatching gardens.

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Jacobs Ladder - TN Nursery

Jacobs Ladder

Jacobs Ladder is a perennial wildflower with pinnate leaves and delicate, bell-shaped, blue to purple flowers arranged along its arching stems, adding grace to shady garden settings. It is a charming and distinctive perennial plant that offers many benefits when incorporated into landscaping designs. With its delicate clusters of bell-shaped flowers and elegant fern-like foliage, it brings a touch of enchantment and versatility to outdoor spaces.   Jacobs Ladder is officially known as Polemonium reptans or simply Polemonium. It's part of the Polemoniaceae or Phlox family and is sometimes called the American Greek valerian, stairway to heaven, sweet root, and abscess root. Many of its names reference the arrangement of the flowers, which can look like stairs or a ladder. The name is also a reference to a biblical story in the book of Genesis where one of the characters, Jacob, has a dream about a stairway to heaven. The Polemonium is a herbaceous perennial that is native to North America. Jacobs Ladder Has Stunning Blooms  It is known for its bell-shaped blue or purple-colored flowers. The flowers usually grow to a height of about three-fourths of an inch and have five stamens. The plant tends to grow low to the ground, only reaching heights and widths of about one to two feet. This wildflower is known for its compounding leaves, meaning many leaves grow from one stem. Jacobs Ladder Brightness Up Landscapes  It accompanies trees and shrubs and can brighten up woodland and shade gardens, especially in the spring when its flowers bloom. They also perform well in perennial borders where many other plants are taller than the stairway to heaven. Jacobs Ladder Does Great Near Other Plants It can be planted next to different trees, shrubs, and flowers. Some beneficial companion plants include hostas, lady ferns, lungwort, foam flowers, and coral bells. It also thrives next to spring beauties, Virginia water leaves, and oriental poppies. Jacobs Ladder makes a great addition to flower and pollinator gardens. The bell-shaped flowers typically attract a wide variety of bees, butterflies, and birds, especially hummingbirds. These wildflowers can add color to many different types of outdoor gardens. Apartment and condo gardeners can enjoy planting it in pots or containers for balcony gardening or as an indoor plant to add color and life to their inside spaces.

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Yellow Trillium - TN Nursery

Yellow Trillium

Yellow Trillium is a showy spring-blooming wildflower with golden, three-petaled flowers and mottled leaves, typically found in woodlands and forests. They are an excellent choice for landscaping due to their numerous positive attributes. These beautiful native North American wildflowers possess unique characteristics that can enhance any garden or outdoor space. From their striking appearance to their role in promoting biodiversity, they offer various benefits for landscape design. Yellow Trillium, also known as Trillium luteum, is a member of the lily family. They bloom between April and May and produce a faint scent of lemon. Due to their growing pattern, these gorgeous flowers can be planted next to other perennials that bloom in mid to late summer. The Stunning Leaves Of The Yellow Trillium Each of these plants has three leaves, and they range in appearance from dark green to light green. Additionally, they may have a few hints of silver, which gives them an extra pop of color. Over time, these herbaceous perennials can grow up to 16 inches tall. You'll see yours grow and expand, but you can divide them during the summer. One trimerous flower sticks up out of the trio of leaves surrounding it. In keeping with the pattern of its leaves, the flower has three petals, three carpels, three stamens, and three sepals. Interestingly, these flowers do not have stalks, but they do have erect petals. Once their flowering season ends, these plants will dormant in the summertime. However, they'll exit dormancy for the late winter season. One Yellow Trillium Gives You Many They are self-seeders, so once you've planted the first one, you'll typically see others rise. They rely on ants to help them spread their seeds. Each new flower will grow beautifully from the plant's center and stick straight into the air. Meanwhile, the leaves grow outward and may slightly swoop toward the ground. The mottled leaves can vary in intensity, with some being primarily green while a light gray shade almost entirely covers others. They provide the perfect backdrop for these stunning light gold flowers. Yellow Trillium Can Be Planted Anywhere Although Yellow Trillium can be planted anywhere, they have a unique natural habitat. They typically grow around the Great Smoky Mountains, where they help bring light and beauty to the area. What's truly unusual, though, is how many will naturally arise in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It's unknown why they flock to this specific city, but it certainly provides a bright point of interest for those living there.

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