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7 best plants that grow back every year


Plants that grow back every year are also known as perennials, as opposed to annual plants that will die off in winter and need to be replaced the following year. Filling up your flower beds and borders with plants that return every year is a great route to a low maintenance garden.

Perennial plants become more established after the first year, and will often come back bigger and better year after year. You may however have to do some pruning to keep certain perennials under control. So make sure you have a good set of the best pruning shears.

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When thinking about perennial plants, we’re generally referring to smaller, flowering plants. And there are hundreds of different plants and varieties to choose from. So narrowing it down to seven was no easy task. Read on to see which ones made the cut, and be sure to check out our guide on the best plants to create more privacy in your backyard.

1. Lavender 

A plant loved by many for its recognizable scent, there are several lavender varieties to choose from. Originally a Mediterranean plant, lavender tends to thrive in warmer climates, but there are varieties that’ll grow well in cooler states too.

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Lavender can become quite bushy, and when planted in rows it can be used to form dwarf hedges. It looks beautiful lining a walkway or creating a soft scented boundary between different parts of your garden.

It’s loved by bees and pollinators and is a very easy plant to grow. In late summer, you’ll need to prune it back to avoid woody stems developing. But dried lavender flowers will last well in a vase on your windowsill, adding a bit of winter joy to your home. 

Check the variety, but lavenders work best in zones 5-10, avoid very wet or shady areas.

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2.  Hostas 

Famed as a shade-loving plant, hostas have large luscious leaves that make a statement in your flower bed. Depending on the variety you choose the leaves will vary in size and color, from rich verdant greens to vibrant yellow tones, or blue grays. Those with variegated leaves are particularly interesting and bold.

The leaves will add interest throughout the growing period and while hostas tend to be enjoyed for their leaves, they do also flower. But unlike many other flowering perennial plants, the small white or purple flowers that shoot up above the foliage are often not the main reason people grow hostas.

Mature hostas can also be divided in spring, to give additional plants for other areas of your garden or to gift to your neighbors. Hostas can grow in zones 3-9 but most don’t like overly sunny locations, so if you live in a warmer climate, keep them in a shady spot.

Hostas have also made it onto our list of flood tolerant plants and shade tolerant plants, so they’re a great choice for many environments. 

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3. Hydrangeas 

Hydrangeas are such a favorite that they barely need an explanation. They produce beautiful, big blooms that vary in color from white to pinks, and purples, there are even vivid blue varieties. One thing they all have in common is their oversized flower heads that deliver plenty of visual impact, yet somehow remain delicate and elegant.

A hydrangea plant can grow up to 8 feet tall, so plant them behind small bedding plants for color and interest at the back of flower beds. Leave the dead flower heads on until early spring, then trim them off when new leaves start to grow. Read our in-depth guide on how to prune hydrangeas.

Select a variety that suits your climate, hydrangeas can happily grow in zones 3-9 so long as you select the right one for where you live.  Hydrangeas love water, so keep them well-watered in the drier months and you’ll be rewarded with long lasting colorful flowers. 

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4. Salvia

Salvias are a group of plants that all come under the same catch-all name, but can look very different. The color and shape of the flower varies significantly depending on the cultivar. Generally salvias are hardy from zones 4-10 but this will depend on the variety. 

One of the best things about salvias is that they flower for extended periods. So unlike other plants that only give you color for a few weeks of the year, some salvias will continue to flower throughout spring, summer and beyond. 

Having a plant that gives continued color and interest throughout the growing period means planting salvias is a no-brainer. What’s more, salvia will attract bees and butterflies so your garden will be full of life and color.

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5. Peonies 

Peonies are a popular perennial plant thanks to the intensely colorful and beautiful flowers they produce. Many people enjoy growing peonies for cut flowers that can be admired indoors. There are so many different colors and varieties you can grow, there’s something for everyone here.

There are varieties available that can grow in USDA zones 3-8, but peonies need to be in a sunny spot with a minimum of six hours of sunshine a day. While peonies produce an Instagram-worthy bloom, they can be temperamental to grow, so probably not the best choice if you’re a very hands-off gardener.

Mature peony plants can reach about 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide, so ensure you leave them plenty of space. And if you notice the stems are struggling to support the flower heads, you may need to give them a helping hand by adding in a support.

6. Lupines 

This striking flowering plant can be grown in zones 4-8 depending on the variety and even grow in the wild in some areas.  The tall flower spikes come in just about every color you can think of. They look really impactful when several lupines are planted alongside each other, but will work in almost any scheme.

Lupines will die away in winter and come back in spring. Before the flowers make an appearance the star shape leaves provide interest with their unusual shape. But it’s really the flowers that make this such a desirable plant.

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The flowers attract bees, butterflies, and pollinators, so they’re an excellent addition to any garden. Make sure to plant lupines in a sunny area, otherwise they may not flower. 

7. Alliums 

Strictly speaking, alliums are a type of ornamental flowering onion.  But don’t let that put you off, they are a worthy addition to a flowing border. The tall stems rise above the foliage to produce large striking globe shaped flowers consisting of lots of tiny flowers.

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Allium flowers are commonly shades of purple, but there are white varieties too. The flowers differ in size and shape depending on the variety you choose. They’re planted as a bulb in autumn and the tall architectural flowers begin to appear in spring. Once planted though, they should return every year.

The bulbs can survive winters in USDA zones 3-8. The plants themselves thrive in sunny locations, so avoid planting in shady areas. As an added bonus, they don’t tend to be eaten by deer or rodents.

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