subscribe
YouTube
Pinterest
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
Search

What are the Best Perennials for Foundation Plantings?

By: Jessie Keith

Large, showy perennials with a long season of interest make the best foundation perennials.

“What are the best perennial plants to use for foundation planting? [I need] something to cover a fairly tall, 5ft swath of concrete foundation. Thank you!” Question from Trish of Newton, New Jersey

Answer: There are lots of wonderful garden perennials ideal for foundation plantings. Those that I recommend the most are long-lived, have a long season of beauty, and perform reliably. When designing a perennial garden for a foundation, It’s always important to plant larger perennials towards the back, graduating to shorter specimens towards the front. Here are some options that mix well together and look great.

Tall Perennial Plants

The perennials listed here are bold, bushy, look good all season, and create good foundation coverage while also creating a nice backdrop for shorter perennials.

  1. Sun King Golden Japanese Spikenard (Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’, Zones 3-9, partial sun to shade): Though it only reaches 3 feet tall and wide, ‘Sun King’ has beautiful golden leaves all summer that creates a happy backdrop for flowering perennials.
  2. Morning Light Chinese Silver Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Zones 5-9, full sun): The feathery good looks of this 4- to 6-foot grass are always appealing, even in winter.
  3. Prairie Winds® Apache Rose  Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum Prairie Winds®Apache Rose, Zones 4-9, full sun): Reaching a maximum of 4 feet, Prairie Winds®Apache Rose has soft blades and rosy, grassy panicles in summer.
  4. Floribunda or Shrub Roses (Rosa spp., hardiness varies, full sun): Ever-flowering, bushy shrub roses are an excellent choice for the back of the border, as long as you choose a really tough, disease-resistant variety. I love the double-pink-flowered Queen Elizabeth, which grows to a maximum of 5-6 feet and stays bushy. The breeders describe it as indestructible.
  5. Tall Phlox (Phlox paniculata, Zones 4-8, full to partial sun): Two favorite tall phlox varieties are the heavy-flowering, pure white ‘David’ (4 feet) and the coral-pink-flowered Garden Girls Glamour Girl (3 feet). Both are mildew resistant when most others are susceptible. The only downside to these tall perennials is that they lack winter interest.

Medium Perennial Plants

  1. Continuous-blooming daylilies (Hemerocallis hybrids, hardiness varies, full to partial sun): Good plant breeding is bringing more and more summerlong daylilies to our gardens. These die back in winter, but they are very pretty the rest of the season. Two nice selections are Rainbow Rhythm® Sound of My Heart and Rainbow Rhythm® Orange Smoothie. Both reach around 2 feet tall. (Click here to discover several more long-blooming daylilies.)
  2. ‘Denim ‘n Lace’ Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Denim ‘n Lace’, Zone 4-9, full sun): The brilliant violet-blue spires of this 2- to 3-foot shrubby summer bloomer are very impressive and attract bees and butterflies. It also retains a pleasing branch structure in winter.
  3. Hellebores (Helleborus hybrids, hardiness varies, full sun to shade): Hardy hellebores bloom very early in the season, and then maintain attractive evergreen foliage the rest of the year. They mix well with many other perennials along foundation borders. (Click here to read more about hellebores.)
  4. Lavender (Lavandula spp. and hybrids, hardiness varies, full sun): Lavender is an evergreen perennial that reaches 1 to 2 feet and keeps on giving. You can’t beat its fragrance and flowers. (Click here to discover the prettiest garden lavenders.)

Short Perennial Plants

Line the edges of your beds with perennial sedums, low-growing flowers and ornamental grasses, or anything colorful or evergreen. Lots of creeping garden plants look great along a garden edge. (Click here to read more about garden creepers.)

I hope that you use some of these plants to design a spectacular foundation perennial border this year.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

Leave a Reply

Content Disclaimer:

This site may contain content (including images and articles) as well as advice, opinions and statements presented by third parties. Sun Gro does not review these materials for accuracy or reliability and does not endorse the advice, opinions, or statements that may be contained in them. Sun Gro also does not review the materials to determine if they infringe the copyright or other rights of others. These materials are available only for informational purposes and are presented “as is” without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. Reliance upon any such opinion, advice, statement or other information is at your own risk. In no event shall Sun Gro Horticulture Distribution, Inc. or any of its affiliates be liable to you for any inaccuracy, error, omission, fact, infringement and the like, resulting from your use of these materials, regardless of cause, or for any damages resulting there from.

While we have made every effort to ensure the information on this website is reliable, Sun Gro Horticulture is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this site is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information.

Use of this site is subject to express terms of use. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use

View Our Privacy Policy