Annuals or Perennials?

By on October 9, 2020

Garden and Landscape Editor Steve Montgomery Shares an Extensive list of Perennials, Including His Favorites


The age-old question of annuals vs. perennials is often asked of me when I am out meeting with clients . My answer is both, I love annuals, as they are a great splash of color for different times of the year. I recommend using them in a limited capacity, mainly to fill in areas during the winter months that are lacking in color. I also recommend a spot or two in the garden where one can enjoy some seasonal color year-round. There are so many to choose from and many are great, but you can end up replacing them up to 3 times a year. This is a lot of effort, work and money.

The other option is to use perennials that flower on a seasonal basis, as the name implies, perennially. This is usually a onetime install and ongoing flowering for years. Perennials normally disappear in the winter and come back every year and bloom for our enjoyment. Sometimes perennials die out due to lack of water, light, fertilizer, but for the most part, are very hardy and require only minimal attention. Pruning the finished flowers off of the plant (dead heading) usually makes the plant produce more flowers for a longer period of time. Perennials are a great compliment to your trees and shrubs and the overall garden. Many of the plants I am going to mention here may be evergreen or evergreen with a seasonal bloom. Some do not bloom at all but give a nice texture and foliage for the garden, and some are actually biennial and re-seeding annuals, these designations depend on your planting zone. For the sake of this conversation, we are going to refer to all of these as perennials. 

Here are some of my favorite perennials that do well in this area and require little attention. Some take a little more care, but all would be a great compliment to your garden. Please keep in mind that many of these are not deer resistant so you might be taking a risk on using them. The following letters and symbols represent specific attributes to the individual plants:

** = Deer resistant, not deer proof

N = Native to the area

E = Evergreen

EB = Evergreen with a seasonal bloom

SH = Shade

S = Sun

F = One of my favorites

Ferns: all ferns are ** (Deer resistant) and most are SH (Shade), a few are sun tolerant:

Maidenhair Fern- SH; Silver Painted Fern- F; Holly Fern- SH, E; Dixie Wood Fern- SH, E; Autumn Fern- SH, E, F; Louisiana Wood Fern- SH, N; Cinnamon Fern- SH, N; Christmas Fern- SH, E, N; Tassel Fern- SH; Southern Shield Fern- SH/S, F; Japanese Beach Fern- SH

Spikemoss: Look like ferns, but are actually a moss:

Arborvitae Fern- SH; Peacock Moss- SH


Acorus- SH/S; Carex, SH/S; Sea Oates- N, S; Horse Tail- S; Maidenhair- S; Muhly, S; Mexican Feather Grass- S

Hostas: A wonderful, easy to grow plant, but definitely not deer resistant. Deer love Hostas, so if you can use them, do. You might want to try one before you buy a bunch. All SH (Shade):

Gold Standard; Earth Angel; Albo and Aureo Marginata; First Frost; Francee, F; Guacamole; June; Mighty Mouse; Patriot; Stained Glass; Francis Williams, F; Blue Angel; Halcyon; Elegans; Mouse Ears; August Moon; Sum and Substance, F; Royal Standard, F

Hardy Succulents, Sedums: Most are E (Evergreen) and S (Sun):

Coral Carpet; France; Jellybean; Micranthum

Murale, Akebono, Eco-Mt.; Emei; Weihenstephaner Gold; Aureum; Limelight; Ogon; Variegata; Angelina; Blue Spruce- F; John Creech- F; Fuldaglut; Takesimense; Tectractinum- F; Hens & Chicks- F

Other Perennials for SH (Shade):

Japanese Anemone- F; Columbine- Some N; Wood Aster; Astilbe- F, Bleeding Heart; Barrenwort; Woodland Spurge; Hardy Geranium, Lenten Rose- **, E, EB, F; Japanese Roof Iris- **,F; Deadnettle- F; Blue Star Creeper,- F; Mazus- F; Woodland Phlox- N, F; Forget Me Not; Jacob’s Ladder; Variegated Solomon Seal; Blue eyed Grass- N; Wood Poppy; Foamflower- N; Toad Lily- F; Perennial Angelica; Ajuga; Cast Iron Plant- E; Heuchera/Alum Root- E, F; Heuchera x Blue Ridge- E, F

Other Perennials for S (Sun):

Yarrow- some N; Aster- N; Canna; Shasta Daisy- F; Mum;Coreopsis- some N; Dianthus- EB, F; Foxglove- S, SH; Coneflower; Joe Pye Weed- N; Blanket Flower; Gaura- N; Daylily, many varieties, favorite Moontraveler- F; Variegated and Regular Japanese Iris- **, F; Siberian Iris- **, F; Flag Iris- N; Torch Lily; Hardy Lantana; Liatris- N, F; Cardinal Flower- N; Lythrum; Beebalm- Some N; Peony- F; Russian Sage, F; Garden Phlox- N, F; Thrift- N, F; Black Eyed Susan- N, F; Sage- N; Pincushion Flower; Goldenrod- N; Stoke’s Aster- N, F; Verbena Bonariensis; Verbena Homestead- N; Veronica Speedwell; Lamb’s Ear- E, F; Santolina, E.   ACLMACLM

Steve Montgomery is the owner of Steve Montgomery and Company based in Roswell, GA since 1985. He is re-locating to this area and will be offering design and consulting services in the greater Blue Ridge area. Steve has extensive knowledge in the areas of landscape, hardscape, construction of outdoor structures, water features and pools. He brings with him incredible creativity in designing awesome outdoor spaces. You can check out some of his work at his website

Steve Montgomery and Company.

Phone: 404-966-8283 or 770-317-1484