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Perennial Flower Suggestions

 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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I have a large area around my house that is currently mostly mulch, some shrubs and trees as a part of a future forest garden. Right now the ground is bear and I want fill it in with some flowers to liven it up and to attract beneficials. Does anyone have any perennial flower suggestions for zone 6? Id be happy with ground cover plants too that don't spread too much. Right now I have some lilies, iris and daffadils spread out mostly around trees and borders. I thought about doing alfalfa but I think it would grow too high and I really don't have time to mow it all the time, plus with mulch being underneath that would kick mulch all over the place. Thanks for any advice.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Personally I would research native perennials for your locale. 
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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Well I have a perennial mix, but its 2 years off from being well established since they come from seed. I have native lilies here that we have transplanted as well. I was thinking more along the lines of potted plants or bulbs to help fill in more immediately. Some of these online nurseries sell small plants for cheap in addition to local nurseries, I just dont want to plant something thats too aggressive or not appropriate for my area. I was looking at the step on me, creeping Thyme...does anyone have any experience with it? Will it take over too fast?

 
tel jetson
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creeping thyme has never caused me any problems, but I don't live in PA.  along those lines, more aromatic and flowering herbs seems like a good choice.  there are plenty of other interesting thymes.  thyme is handy to have around for bees, who use it for medicine.  that includes honey bees and the rest of the bee gang, too.

I also like lupines, Fragaria chiloensis (can get out of hand), day lilies.  camas.

arctic raspberry (Rubus arcticus) might work.  cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) is another low raspberry, but it's sensitive to heat.  there's a hybrid (Rubus arcticus x stellarcticus) that could work, though it isn't easy to find and also has trouble with heat.  those three are low ground covers with fruit.  the flowers are nice, though not that showy.

how about trefoils (Lotus corniculatus)?  nice flowers, low-growing, nitrogen.

so many options.  how about some more criteria to narrow it down?  maybe be a little more specific about what you're trying to accomplish.
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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Edit: didn't read well enough. Day lillies, lilly of the valley, and coneflower come to mind.
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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Campanula poscharskyana. Evergreen, low growing, honey plant, leaves are edible, heat tolerant but love moist places and very nice! They conquer all sorts of cracks and niches but are easy to pull out because of their shallow root system. And they claim space slow not weedy at all. They have a long flower period. Bumble- and honey bees love them, spiders, too. They reseed themselves very well.

They are native to Europe though. I don't know if there is an element like them in America. But I bet they already have been introduced as ornamentals.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Caveat: my idea of 'flower' is fairly relaxed, I'm on the other side of the world in a temperate climate and my soil's dry and sandy...
the insects go nuts for perennial red clover, and I encourage yarrow. Actually, I don't, it encourages itself!
Nerines and bluebells. They, like all bulbs, can look pretty rough when the foliage dies down.
Are you after perennials only? My place is overrun with annual self-seeders which the insects love: calendula, soldier poppies (I think they're also called corn poppies), phacelia, nigella, cosmos...
I'm a sucker for a handsome vegetable. Say, red Russian kale, cavelo nero and giant red mustard. Let those go to seed and you'll make a lot of insects very, very happy!
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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tel jetson wrote:
creeping thyme has never caused me any problems, but I don't live in PA.  along those lines, more aromatic and flowering herbs seems like a good choice.  there are plenty of other interesting thymes.  thyme is handy to have around for bees, who use it for medicine.  that includes honey bees and the rest of the bee gang, too.

I also like lupines, Fragaria chiloensis (can get out of hand), day lilies.  camas.

arctic raspberry (Rubus arcticus) might work.  cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) is another low raspberry, but it's sensitive to heat.  there's a hybrid (Rubus arcticus x stellarcticus) that could work, though it isn't easy to find and also has trouble with heat.  those three are low ground covers with fruit.  the flowers are nice, though not that showy.

how about trefoils (Lotus corniculatus)?  nice flowers, low-growing, nitrogen.

so many options.  how about some more criteria to narrow it down?  maybe be a little more specific about what you're trying to accomplish.


Id like to try the thyme, but Im really sensitive to it growing over into our neighbors yard. Right now I have our property line as mulch, basically our neighbors on either side mow their lawn and then there is mulch on my side. We have had terrible heavy rains and run off so some of my mulch has gone over to their side. Id like to have something to intercept the rain water. I have swales but the water run off is so strong sometimes that doesn’t help completely. IM trying to maintain a good relationship with them so they will be more tolerable to things like chickens etc. The last thing I want is for more of my property to end of on their side.  So I guess the point is quickly established ground cover to help with erosion, but I don’t want anything that is going to divide and spread. It has to be perennial for now since I don’t have time or money to reseed each year, and It has to have biomass in place during cooler months too when the snow melts. I have the coneflowers too, but Ive been hesitant to do too many since I know they can spread rather easily. Eventually I will have a mix of shrubs, herbs and flowers to hold the land together in a mass planting, but I just don’t have time or money to put it all together right now. Make sense?
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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I don't think any of the species that have come up so far will screw up your neighbors' yard.  some might try to spread into the grass, but the mowing should easily keep them in check.  the thymes certainly aren't going to displace established turf.  so I think one or more thyme would be appropriate for you, though it really doesn't spread terribly quickly to give you the coverage you want.

sounds like something that can spread fast to give you some initial coverage is in order while you slowly fill in with more species.  so it should also be fairly easily removed.  seems like strawberries could fit the bill, specifically Fragaria chiloensis since it spreads quickly to form a nice dense low mat.  it's relatively easy to pull out when the time comes.  musk strawberries (F. moschata) would probably cost you a little more, they wouldn't spread quite as fast (but still fast), they're taller plants, doesn't cover as completely, but have the significant advantage of crazy tasty fruit.  it's a really attractive plant with nice flowers in season.

lupines aren't ground covers, but they're easy from seed, they look good, potential food, good for bugs, good for dirt, could fill in a lot of space, won't bother the neighbors' lawn.

day lilies thrive on neglect, look good, are tasty, don't spread aggressively.  they can be a little difficult to get rid of, but not terrible.  with some help from you in the form of periodically dividing clumps, a small number of plants to start with could quickly cover a large area.

so I'm mostly repeating myself, but I think those will work for you.  cheap and useful plants.  there are plenty of others, too, beyond what everybody has mentioned so far.

Leila mentioned yarrow, which is a real nice one.  it can get large-ish, and tends to look a little gross after the growing season.  another good one for bugs, and easy to divide to quickly fill an area.  nice flowers, too.

the raspberries I mentioned are nice, but wouldn't fill in very quickly.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Location: zone 7
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i don't see echinacea mentioned. a beautiful flower with great benefits for you and the garden. a potential crop in more than a few ways too.
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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I have the echinacea/coneflower. I really like them, I just don't want too many where they spread.

Tel, thanks for the info. I think I will try a few thymes, and I was thinkings strawberry initially as well since they are cheap and can easily be removed. Heck, even if they do get out of control, I will have the neighbors over for strawberry picking!!
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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Lupine
 
                    
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Cannas are a decent root crop with nice flowers, they are kinda marginal in zone 6, but might work against a south facing wall, especially if there is heat from the house/basement or if you cover with mulch in the fall.
 
Chris Holcombe
Posts: 97
Location: Zone 8b Portland
food preservation forest garden fungi
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How about maximillian sunflower ?  I saw those in the gaia gardening book
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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I think those would be too tall and possibly aggressive for my lot. I am putting something similar on the edge of our property though where it backs up to farm land.
 
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