Top Five Summer-Blooming Native Perennials

kate wilsonby Kate Wilson

What an unusual summer we’re having, with our rainy June and now a rainy July! Although it hasn’t been the best for my basement, my summer flowers (and weeds) are crazy lush and starting to bloom all over the place.

As you may be aware at this point, I’m a big fan of lists – Back in the good old days, I worked once at a music store, when CDs were still a thing and worshipped the movie High Fidelity. Although I have since fallen out of love with John Cusack, I’m still a big fan of music and lists.

Without further ado, I am pleased to give you the….

Ultimate Top 5 Summer-Blooming Native Perennials

599px-Butterfly_Weed_Whole_Flowering_Plant_1676pxAscelias tuberosa, Butterfly weed. One of the more popular native perennials in recent years, this star owes its fame in large part due to its membership in the milkweed family. It’s one of the few plants where Monarch butterflies lay their eggs and larvae eat the leaves of the plant. Butterfly weed, despite “weed” in the name, only grows to 1’-2’ tall and wide with bright orange clusters of flowers in summer. Looks its best when planted in groupings. It can tolerate wet feet, making it a great accent in a rain garden. Full sun.



Geranium, Hardy Geranium or Cranesbill. NOTE: not to be confused with Grandma’s favorite (red) annual. This perennial has a mounding-to-spreading habit (1’ high and 2’-3’ wide) that becomes covered in violet-blue or pink blooms in early summer and re-blooms into late summer and even into fall! It can take full to part shade. The two most revered varieties are Geranium x ‘Rozanne’, a 2008 perennial of the year award winner, and Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’, a 2015 perennial of the year award. Needless to say, it’s a winner that should be enjoyed in your garden.

Liatris punctata habit Liatris spicata, Purple gayfeather. Small purple (sometimes pink-ish-purple or white depending on the variety) flowers grouped in clusters along a spike. What makes this plant particularly interesting is that it blooms from the top downward. I am unaware of any other plant with this blooming habit. A great alternative to the popular, but invasive, loosestrife. Part sun to full sun.

IMG_20150712_100817Echinacea purpera, Purple coneflower. Reaches 26”-36” tall and can tolerate full sun to part sun. It blooms from mid-summer into fall. Seed heads attract birds in early winter if you choose not to dead head them in the fall. There are MANY varieties.



Coreopsis_grandiflora_003Coreopsis verrticillate, Threadleaf Tickseed. Most varieties
growing 12”-26” tall, this perennial has a fine texture due to its narrow (thread) leaf. It profusely flowers bright yellow blooms in mid-summer. Some highly regarded varieties are ‘Golden showers’ and ‘Moonbeam.’ Part sun to full sun.

Don’t worry, I have more plant lists up my sleeve! Happy Gardening!

Depending on your definition of native, some of these varieties and their pure “native-ness” could be called into question. This topic, although I find interesting, is not something I wish to explore at this moment. If you, however, are interested in exploring, than I encourage you to look into the following sites:

Ohio Native Plant Network:

OSU extension services at:

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