Snapdragons, nasturtiums, marigolds, sweet peas, pansies, and so much more. Flowerbeds can be beautiful even in the short Alaskan growing season. But the cost of replacing annual flowers every spring adds up fast and can often push your garden over budget, not to mention all that replanting is a lot of work. I think I’ll just stick to hardy perennial flowers for Alaska. Check out the first part of my perennial list HERE.
Garden phlox (phlox paniculata), also known as a border phlox, can grow to a fairly good size, around 3′ tall and spread 1′ to 3′. Be sure to plant your seedlings 1′ to 2′ apart to give them lots of room to grow. They will do well in full or partial sun. Phlox prefers moist, well draining soil and will love lots of compost. Don’t forget to deadhead your flowers for more blooms. Grows in Zones 4-8. Bonus- it attracts butterflies!
Rock wall cress (arabis caucasica) is a great low-growing border plant, especially along the edge of a retaining wall. They do best in full sun and need good drainage. They do well on a hill or slope, even where other plants will not, because they are an alpine flower. Slightly acid soil is good. Water well when newly planted and then only when the soil is dry once established. Plant 15″ to 18″ apart, as it will fill in. Very good plant for a new gardener. Zones 4-7. Bonus- Both the flowers and leaves are edible, as rock cress is part of the mustard family!
If you’ve got a large blank wall or fence you want to have filled in, yellow clematis (clematis tangutica) is the way to go. This strong climber will grow quickly up a trellis and shower you in pretty yellow blossoms and then give you Dr. Seuss-like seed pods (they’re very cool). It does well in full sun to partial shade and prefers medium moisture. Zone 4-8.
Dianthus (dianthus) is a nice filler plant for flower beds. These carnation-type flowers can be white, pink, magenta, or red. Deadheading keeps the blooms coming. Up to 20″ tall, these are good “middle of the flower bed” flowers. They are also good cutting flowers. Grow in full sun, getting at least six hours of sunlight, and prefer neutral to alkaline pH soil. It does not tolerate wet soil. Zone 3-9.
Looking for some color to last the summer? Try blue oat grass (helictotrichon sempervirens). This steel blue foliage grows 24-36″ and looks good in formal and informal gardens alike. Not only is it good ground cover, but it helps with erosion control too. This grass is very low maintenance and grows well in beds and containers, provided it is in full sun. Read more HERE. Zone 4-9.
Creeping Jenny (lysimachia nummelaria) is a great ground cover or a trailing edge over a container or rock wall. It does well in full sun or shade with good drainage. Be sure to plant them at least 2′ apart, as it will fill in quickly. It does have an invasive nature, so be sure to keep an eye on it. Zone 2-10.
Daylilies (hemerocallis) will steal the show in your flower bed. These big, brilliant blooms come in yellow, orange, or maroon and smell wonderfully. Extremely hardy, they’ll bloom year after year with hardly any attention. They do best in full sun with moist, well draining soil. Plant them 12″ to 18″ apart and mulch well. Zones 3-9.
Yarrow (achillea millefolium) is a wonderful choice for your garden; it even grows wild in south central Alaska. It is practically care free. It grows great in full sun and will survive in a variety of soils. It is both an edible and medicinal plant with many uses and benefits. Joybilee Farm has several articles on the many benefits of yarrow, including uses for high blood pressure and for coughs and fevers. Tenth Acre Farm can show you five reasons to grow yarrow. It’s even good for your chickens! Zones 3-9.
Looking for more perennials? Be sure to check out Part One of Hardy Perennial Flowers for Alaska!