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University of Illinois Extension
Beyond Impatiens and Petunias

Perennials for Sunny, Dry Sites


Beard-Tongue - Penstemon barbatus

Height: 12-24 inches.

Width: 12-18 inches.

Bloom: Pink, Rose-Purple, June-Aug.

Cultivars: 'Elfin Pink', 'Rondo', 'Prairie Dusk', 'Dark Towers'.

Notes: Must have very good drainage for success.

Globe Thistle

Globe Thistle - Echinops bannaticus

Height: 3-4 feet.

Width: 2-3 feet.

Bloom: Blue, July-Aug.

Cultivars: 'Blue Glow'.

Notes: Steel blue hedgehog-like flower. Good cut flower, flowers easily dried.

Blanket Flower

Blanket Flower - Gaillardia x grandiflora

Height: 18-24 inches.

Width: 12-24 inches.

Bloom: Reds, yellows, June-Sept.

Cultivars: 'Arizona Apricot', 'Arizona Sun', 'Baby Cole'.

Notes: Deadheading will prolong bloom through the season. Divide every 2-3 years.

Purple Cone Flower

Purple Cone Flower - Echinacea purpurea

Height: 2-3 feet.

Width: 18-24 inches.

Bloom: Pink, Magenta, White, July-Aug.

Cultivars: 'White Swan', 'Magnus', 'Pow Wow Wild Berry' 'Cheyenne Spirit', 'Prairie Splendor'.

Notes: Dependable, showy, wide color choices. Deadhead for repeat bloom.


Yarrow - Achillea millefolium

Height: 18-24 inches.

Width: 18-24 inches.

Bloom: Yellow, pink, red, white, July-Aug.

Cultivars: 'Strawberry Seduction', 'Sunny Seduction', 'Peachy Seduction', 'Moonshine'.

Notes: Flattened clusters of flowers above silver gray foliage.

False Indigo

False Indigo - Baptisia australis

Height: 3-5 feet.

Width: 2-3 feet.

Bloom: Blue,yellow, purple, May-June.

Cultivars: 'Midnight Prairie Blues', 'Solar Flare', 'Purple Smoke'.

Notes: Very large plant, sweet pea like flowers above blue green foliage. Attractive seed pods.

Threadleaf Coreopsis

Threadleaf Coreopsis - Coreopsis verticillata

Height: 18-24 inches.

Width: 24-30 inches.

Bloom: Yellow, June-Aug.

Cultivars: 'Moonbeam', 'Golden Showers', 'Zagreb'.

Notes: Very fine textured foliage. Cut back faded flowers to encourage rebloom through fall.

Baby's Breath

Baby's Breath - Gypsophila paniculata

Height: 18-24 inches.

Width: 18-24 inches.

Bloom: White, Pink, June-Sept.

Cultivars: 'Bristol Fairy'. 'Pink Fairy'.

Notes: Masses of tiny flowers on long stems above basal leaves. Repeat bloom is encouraged by cutting old flower stalks to the ground.

Perennial Salvia

Perennial Salvia - Salvia nemorosa

Height: 18-36 feet.

Width: 18-24 inches.

Bloom: Violet blue, white, June-Aug.

Cultivars: 'May Night', 'Blue Hill', 'Snow Hill', 'Marcus'.

Notes: Cut back in mid-summer to encourage rebloom. Needs very well drained soil for best growth.

Sea Holly

Sea Holly - Eryngium planum

Height: 2-3 feet.

Width: 2-3 feet.

Bloom: Steel blue, July-Sept.

Cultivars: 'Big Blue', 'Blue Glitter', 'Blue Hobbit'.

Notes: Interesting spiky foliage and blue thistle-like flowers. If picked when fully open and dried, flowers retain their color.

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan - Rudbeckia fulgida

Height: 24-30 inches.

Width: 18-24 inches.

Bloom: Yellow, July-Sept.

Cultivars: 'Goldstrum', 'City Garden', 'Little Goldstar', 'Viette's Little Suzy'.

Notes: Dependable perennial version of Black-Eyed Susan. Long bloom season.


Goldenrod - Tiarella cordifolia

Height: 18-24 inches.

Width: 18-24 inches.

Bloom: Yellow, Aug-Sept.

Cultivars: 'Cloth of Gold', 'Crown of Rays'. 'Golden Fleece', 'Fireworks'.

Notes: Good late season bloom. Not the cause of hay fever or fall allergies.

Arkansas Amsonia

Arkansas Amsonia - Amsonia hubrichtii

Height: 3-4 feet.

Width: 2-3 feet.

Bloom: Blue, May-June.

Cultivars: 'Butterscotch', 'Lemon drop'.

Notes: Fine needle-like foliage, small blue flowers early. Good fall color.