I’ve been wanting to plant a perennial garden for many years. It was never a priority, and with small babies, it always got pushed to the backburner.
But my baby is turning 3 this summer, and I am starting a perennial garden!
It’s exciting to start planning a perennial garden, but I’m also finding myself at a loss at what I want to plant. I have enough experience with winter kill, and I don’t want to plant a bunch of stuff that will not survive.
So what do you do when you want winter-hardy plants?
You ask an experienced gardener of course! My mom has started several perennial gardens already, so I asked her.
She gave me a very helpful list of perennial plants that survive our cold winters. Today I am going to share those with you, as well as overwintering perennials that I have planted with success too.
I’ve had my share of buying plants for $$$, planting them, only to have them die over the winter. My flower bed on the south side of our home is a prime example of this. This is mostly due to a lack of healthy soil.
Roses especially are a challenge to grow around here, but there are several cold-hardy types that I want to try.
How To Plan A Perennial Garden
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This applies to a perennial garden too.
Plan your perennial garden before you turn over new ground.
How big do you want the garden to be? What is the purpose of the garden? How much time do you have to take care of the garden?
These are all questions to consider.
What is the Purpose of the Garden
If you are planting a perennial garden to be aesthetically pleasing, it will look different than if you are planting it to produce food for your family.
A beautiful flower perennial garden is a great addition to your yard, and can even increase the value of your home. I always want my gardens to be both functional and beautiful.
That’s why I plan to incorporate flowers, vegetables, and fruits in my perennial garden.
I always plant a large vegetable garden each year. We plant a lot of potatoes carrots and corn for our family in a large tilled garden. This works well, but it also prevents me from planting perennials because we till them.
Starting a perennial garden gives me an opportunity to attempt permaculture gardening while giving perennial plants a home where they are not in danger of tiller tines.
Consider Sun and Shade
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is planting full sun plants in a shady area!
Consider how much sunshine your garden will get. Most plants need at least 8 hours of sunshine every day. PLanting a shade perennial garden is a great idea, but your planning will look different then.
Shade-loving plants are necessary if your perennial garden will be mostly in the shade.
Plant tall plants on the north side, and low ones more towards the south, sloping the height of different types if possible. If you do plant a large tree that will produce shade, plant shade-loving plants in the shade that tree will produce.
I have incorporated some raised beds in my large perennial garden. In these beds, I intend to plant broccoli, cabbages, and other brassicas. These prefer cooler temperatures, so planting a shady tree close by will help them.
Mulch and Weed Control
What is your plan for weed control? Mulching is a necessity to prevent excessive weeds. There are different ways to mulch a flower bed, and some take more care than others.
In my perennial bed, I am covering the soil with woodchips. We were able to get 1 ton of woodchips for $50, so that was an affordable option for us.
Garden centers also have bags of mulch. This can become costly in no time. PLanning a perennial bed so that there is not too much bare ground is also a way to eliminate weeds.
I love a well-dressed perennial garden. There have been several garden tours that I’ve attended in the last couple of years, and some of the local gardeners have amazing gardens.
A perennial garden with paths, large trees, small shrubs, and many beautiful flowers is my dream.
Zone 2 Perennial Flowers
Most flowers come in different types, and which type you choose will affect the height of the plant. For that reason, I have not included how tall each one will get.
Lupines are a deer-resistant flower that loves a sunny site, with well-drained soil. They even help to improve the fertility of soil over the years.
One of the easiest perennials to grow from seed, Lupines can grow in part shade but will produce fewer flowers.
Seeds are a lot less expensive than buying roots or a plant. However, if you plant them from seed, they probably won’t bloom until their second year. Lupines can be invasive, so you will need to keep them under control.
A lot of roses struggle to survive in zone 2. I love a good rose bush, but they are a struggle to grow in zone 2. Choosing the right type and protecting their roots during the winter will help them survive.
Parkland roses are hardy for zones 2 and 3 and are repeat bloomers. Canada’s Explorer is another type that has become an international success because they are winter hardy.
The Hansa Rose is a favorite for Canadian winters. This vigorous shrub boasts incredible roses and tolerates poor soils. They prefer full sun.
Growing a Hydrangea is on my list. Hardy hydrangeas have become one of the most popular flowering shrubs and for good reason.
They are cold hardy, easy to grow, and require little pruning. Be careful when choosing a type though, because not all are hardy. In the fall, give the hydrangeas a thick layer of mulch over their roots to prevent frost damage. Hydrangeas also prefer full sun.
This one is actually a biennial, meaning they will grow the first year and bloom the second. That is why you can plant them during the summer. Then they will bloom the following spring.
Deadheading flowers will help them keep producing. Sweet Williams produces very fragrant flowers, perfuming your garden.
Astilbes do best in partial shade in warm climates, but in our cooler climate, they do tolerate full sun. They prefer rich, fertile soil.
I love me some lilies. Asiatic lilies are hardy to zone 2 and multiply quickly. They have 3-6 flowers per stem, and the petals are often spotted.
Here where we live we get good snow coverage, so they are well insulated during the winter. Lilies need an insulated barrier over winter. If you live in a zone 2 area with little snow cover, make sure to mulch them well in the fall.
Delphiniums require 6-8 hours of sun a day, while the roots like cool, moist shade. They bloom for most of the summer and are commonly used in borders or background plants.
One of the hardiest perennials around, taller varieties might need staking to prevent them from falling over.
Zone 2 Perennial Fruit
Most fruit that we grow is perennials. My favorite perennial fruit is strawberries. Rhubarb has also done well here.
Be sure to buy a hardy cherry. The one I’ve had the most success with so far is Romeo Cherry.
Kent is a June Bearing variety that does exceptional in zone 2. Seascape is an everbearing type that will produce strawberries in early summer and late fall. They prefer sandy soil.
Rhubarb loves rich soil! Technically a vegetable, rhubarb plants are really easy to divide. Our rhubarb has never done better than after we added manure. It’s thriving now.
Zone 2 Perennial Vegetables
I find fewer options for perennial vegetables, which is why we have a large annual vegetable garden. These are three perennial vegetables you can grow. If you know of more, please feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section. I will add them to this list.
Gardening is not a one-and-done type of job. Plan your perennial garden, but know that things may change as you grow and learn.
I’ve wanted to plan a Zone 2 perennial garden for several years but was always intimidated by it.
Along with plants killing off each winter, it can get really frustrating. With a little planning and some hard work, you also can have a beautiful perennial garden.
Your perennial garden does not need to be completed in one year. Next spring you can add things if you need them.
Our budget does not allow an excessive amount of plant buying, so I am buying as I am able. Many perennials can be divided and transplanted.
Trading roots and seeds with other gardeners is an excellent way to build your perennial garden on a budget. Propagating plants is also a way to get more plants for free.
My perennial garden is far from done. I’m excited to see what it will bring but I also know that not everything might survive.
Learn as you grow. I’ll add to this list as I find more zone 2 perennials.
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