Choosing from the many perennials at garden centers can be confusing. Which ones will grow best during Baltimore’s notoriously humid summers? Astilbe, trillium, bee balm, soapwort, and bleeding heart have all proven to thrive in northeastern gardens. Though, they all have different benefits such as drying well, attracting bees or producing edible flowers.
Astilbe has fuzzy flowers that rise on tall spikes and the teardrop leaves have saw-tooth edges. The red, pink or white flowers dry well and look great in masses. They do best in part shade, especially if they only get morning sun. They can be divided in spring and fall and prefer evenly moist soil.
Trillium is so named because the flowers have three petals and underneath each flower are three leaves. Butterflies love the pink, white or red flowers, which bloom from mid-April to mid-May. Trillium prefers shade but can do well in part sun. It grows about 12-18 inches tall and has a spread of 14-18 inches. It is best to divide this plant in the summer when it is dormant.
Bee balm has spiky intense colored flowers that arch out from the center of the flower. Dark green leaves compliment the pink, fuchsia or purple flowers, which bloom in July and August. Bee balm can tolerate many kinds of soil and part shade or full sun. This perennial can be grown from seed but cross-pollination may affect the eventual appearance. Propagate this plant by division in the spring or fall.
Soapwort is so named because when it is crushed it produces a foamy substance that is often used in shampoo. The small single, sometimes double flowers have long slim petals that radiate from the center and bloom all summer. Soapwort has a low spreading habit and attracts butterflies. They will tolerate most conditions and are good for rock gardens and containers.
Bleeding Heart bears showy white or red heart shaped flowers that have a tear shaped bottom. These arch out from the medium green pointy leaves. Bleeding heart grows about two feet tall and two feet wide. This flower is resistant to many common insects and diseases. It prefers rich, moist, but well drained soil.
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