University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennials for Specific Habitats                           OH 86
Dr. Leonard P. Perry, Extension Professor

Choosing the right perennials for the right place (hardiness, light, soil type/moisture) results in a more sustainable and successful landscape. The following environmental habitats are common in gardens, with 10 common perennials suitable for each, including some more difficult sites. Keep in mind that:

Other specific garden habitats such as water edges and water are not covered here.

Shade (compares to the natural woodland habitat), under 4 hours sun per day

Perennials for Shade
Ajuga (Bugleweed)

Asarum europaeum (European Ginger)

Athyrium (Painted, Lady ferns)--moist

Brunnera (Siberian Bugloss)

Helleborus (Hellebore)

Hosta (Funkia, Plantain Lily)

Lamium (Dead Nettle)

Pachysandra (Spurge)

Pulmonaria (Lungwort)--moist

Tiarella (Foamflower)

Part Shade (compares to the natural woodland edge habitat), 4-8 hours of sun per day

Perennials for Part Shade
Aquilegia (Columbine)

Astilbe –moist

Cimicifuga (Bugbane)—moist

Geranium maculatum (Perennial Geranium)

Hosta (Funkia, Plantain Lily)

Heuchera (Coralbells)

Phlox divaricata

Polemonium (Jacob’s Ladder)

Sanguisorba (Burnet)--moist

Tricyrtis (Toad Lily)

Sun (compares to natural meadows, prairies), over 8 hours of sun per day

Perennials for Soggy Sun

Camassia (Quamash, bulb)

Carex (sedges)

Chelone (Turtlehead)

Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)

Iris pseudacorus ‘Variegata’ (Iris)

Lobelia siphilitica (Blue Lobelia)

Lysimachia punctata ‘Alexander’ (Loosestrife)

Physostegia virginiana ‘Miss Manners’ (Obedient Plant)

Primula (primroses)

Perennials for Dry Sun
Allium (ornamental onions)

Armeria maritima (Sea Thrift)

Dianthus (Pinks)

Gypsophila repens (Creeping Baby’s Breath)

Hemerocallis (daylilies)

Lilium (lilies)

Nepeta (Catmint)

Pennisetum (Fountain Grass)

Sedum (Sedum)

Thymus (Thyme)

Perennials for both extremes
Aster (various Asters)

Baptisia (False Indigo)

Echinacea (Coneflowers)

Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris)

Monarda (Bee Balm)

Ornamental grasses (many)

Geranium sanguineum (Perennial Geranium)

Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)

Solidago (Goldenrod)

Veronicastrum (Culver’s Root)


Perennials for Containers
Ajuga (Bugleweed)

Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)

Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf Coreopsis)

Helleborus (Hellebore, Lenten Rose)

Heuchera (Coralbells)

Hosta (dwarf cultivars)

Lamium (Dead Nettle)

Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ (Creeping Jenny)

Pennisetum (Fountain Grass)

Vinca minor (Perennial Periwinkle)

Return to Perry's Perennial Consumer Page

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Prepared  10/05