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These Hardy Perennials are the Toughest on the Block

Perennials are showy additions in the garden that work hard for you year after year to decorate the landscape. While some require special care and a tender touch to succeed in the garden, there are a bunch of hardy perennials that are tough as nails. These are great for low-maintenance gardens as they will continue to bloom, year after year, with little care.

33 perennials that work well in cool climates

Why Hardy Perennials?

I often go by my old house to see how the front-yard perennial garden is doing. I have watched it over the past several years continue to bloom and grow and look lovely, despite the lack of interest the new owners have in gardening. It was so hard to leave the garden behind, but what I left was a number of hardy perennials that needed little care. bright red echinacea flowers

I figured the new gardeners would get two or three years of relatively maintenance-free flowers in the garden before it needed some care. And, boy, was I ever right! They didn’t water the garden, cut back, divide, or care for any of the plants and yet it STILL continued to thrive.

lady's mantle is a hardy perennial that thrives in shade

It has now been many years of neglect, and the garden bursts with blooms from mass plantings that keep on truckin’ year after year after year. I visit a few times a year and, while I’m sad to see this gorgeous and healing space is left untended, I’m proud of my plants and my design.

It’s low-maintenance and drought tolerant and a haven for pollinators and beneficial insects. I see plenty of growth and a messy appearance, but no signs of disease or stress. Perennials are the hardest working decorative plants out there. Plus, they add so much personality to your garden.

flowering perennials in the home garden

In the right conditions, perennials will deliver a low-maintenance landscape in sun or shade. So when I get asked about how to create a low maintenance garden, I share this list.

For more details on each of the plants, I have created a set of articles that outlines my favorite perennials for sun and my favorites for shade. Head over to those two for more details about each of the plants and leave your favorite hardy perennials in the comments section.

Best Hardy Perennials for Sun

Read more about perennials for sun and my top five here.

  • Geranium (Cranesbill)
  • Echinacea (Coneflower)
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily)
  • Coreopsis (Tickseed)
  • Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris)
  • Iris croatica (Bearded Iris)
  • Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)
  • Rudbeckia hirta (Black-Eyed Susan)
  • Sedum (Stonecrop)
  • Nepeta (Catmint)
  • Anemone hupehensis (Japanese Anemone / Windflower)
  • Salvia
  • Lilium auratum (Asiatic Lily)
  • Dianthus (Sweet William)
  • Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)
  • Leucanthemum × superbum (Shasta Daisy)
  • Euphorbia (Spurge)

rudbeckia in bloom

Plants I Did Not Include on this List and Why:

Phlox – It is beautiful, fragrant, and easy to grow and many would argue it is very hardy, but its predisposition to powdery mildew bumped it off my list.

Peony – a garden beauty queen and exceptional cut flower, but this stunner needs staking or caging and it leaves a mess of petals all over the place when it’s done blooming, making it too much of a diva for this list. This isn’t to say I don’t love the peony, because I do! They just require a bit more care. Here’s how to grow and care for stunning peonies.

Clematis – this is an easy-to-grow perennial vine with showy flowers that come back stronger and better every year. But some varieties require annual pruning down to the ground and others don’t. The task of remembering to have to prune it gets the clematis set aside from this list.

Best Hardy Perennials for Shade

Get more details on growing perennials in a shady garden and my favorite picks here.

  • Helleborus (Hellebore)
  • Geranium macrorrhizum (Big Root Geranium)
  • Epimedium (Barrenwort)
  • Hosta
  • Alchemilla (Lady’s Mantle)
  • Lamprocapnos spectabilis (Bleeding Heart)
  • Tracheophyta (Ferns)
  • Pulmonaria (Lungwort)
  • Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)
  • Corydalis lutea (Yellow Corydalis)
  • Astilbe
  • Hakonechloa macra (Japanese Forestgrass)
  • Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger)
  • Liriope (Lilyturf)
  • Ajuga (Bugle)
  • Tiarella cordifolia (Foamflower)

astilbe and Japanese forestgrass

Plants I Did Not Include on this List and Why:

There is a fine line between hardy and invasive. For example, plants that are strong growers and tolerant of poor soil and varying conditions can also be hard to control. For that reason, I didn’t include plants like Lamium on this list despite their ornamental value and hardiness.

But, you say, “you included, Ajuga, Wild Ginger, and Lady’s Mantle!” For me, controlling Lamium is more difficult than it is worth, but with the others, I have no trouble ripping up a handful here and there to remove the excess. It’s truly up to your own personal preference as to how much spreading and clearing you are willing to tolerate.

What are your favorite perennials to grow in the home garden? Leave a comment and let us know. We love learning how your garden grows!

golden hosta


More Perennials to Love!




  1. I don’t like when people state they are going to list something then it’s a ruse to go to their website. When that is done I no longer am interested in what you’re advertising. Sorry

    • Nila, it seems that somewhere this post has been linked to another post for shade-loving perennials. You can find that article here:

      While we can’t control what links are floating around out there, we have an awesome search bar on every page that will help you find what you are looking for. Sorry for the confusion.

  2. Note to Nila, this is now April 2018 and they’re still doing it! I’ve got a shady garden….come on over she said, I’ll give you a list of shade loving plants……did she heck!
    Like you I’m now not interested in her gardentherapy. No fair. We’re NOT idiots!

    • Hi Jenny,
      Thanks for your comments. I’m not sure what site you came from but this list is for sun-loving perennials. We have a list of shade-loving perennials as well here:

      Plus, there are a bunch of other related articles you can see listed at the end of the article, some of which are for shade. If you have a look through our site, you will see over 1,000 articles that we have spent quite a bit of time researching, photographing, testing and writing.

      We hope that you find what you are looking for.

  3. Thank you for the article, I found it very informative.
    I will for sure use some of your suggestions.

  4. How about a photo of each of the plants you are listing in Sunny perennials or shade perennials and the name of the plant right underneath each photo?


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