Flowers add colour and fragrance to the landscape. Many blooms attract beneficial pollinating species, such as butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. For added visual impact, plant tall species with flowers atop leafy stalks. When choosing blooming plants, consider cultural conditions, such as soil preferences, irrigation requirements and sun exposure, as well as each plant's U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone rating.
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Ornamental grasses offer low-maintenance ground cover or screening plants. Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha or Stipa brachytricha) grows to 3 feet tall. It produces tall pink plumes from the fall through the winter atop stems with arching, lustrous green leaves. This grass grows best in partial shade and moist soil. It is hardy to Zone 4. Switch grass (Panicum virgatum) grows from 4 to 5 feet tall. It blooms with pink, feathery flowers in the middle of the summer atop blue-green, upright foliage. This grass is hardy in Zone 5 to Zone 9 and prefers full sun. It tolerates high elevations, salt and a range of soils.
Perennials and Biennials
Perennials live and flower for at least three years, while biennials live for two years. In its second year, the clary sage (Salvia sclarea), a biennial, produces a tall stalk topped by white and pink blossoms. Clary sage grows to 5 feet tall, prefers full-sun exposures and is hardy in Zone 4 to Zone 9. It reseeds itself easily and has aromatic, edible foliage. The fragrant plantain lily (Hosta plantaginea) produces a 3-foot-tall stalk topped with aromatic white flowers. This perennial blooms in the late summer and fall and has lustrous green foliage. Hostas prefer shaded sites and rich soil, and are hardy in Zone 3 to Zone 8. The bear's breeches and spiny bear's breeches (Acanthus hungaricus and A. spinosus) also bloom with pink and white flowers atop tall stalks. These perennials produce long-lasting flowers in midsummer and have dark green foliage. They prefer lightly shaded sites with well-drained soil and are hardy in Zone 7 to Zone 10.
Several orchid varieties produce white and pink flowers on tall stalks. The purple fringeless orchid (Platanthera peramoena) grows up to 3 feet tall and blooms with clusters of 15 to 25 pink flowers on top of a stalk. This orchid flowers in midsummer and prefers wet sites. Its natural habitat includes ditches, floodplains, disturbed areas and forested sites. The rattlesnake orchid (Goodyera pubescens) produces small white flowers atop a fuzzy, 18-inch-long stalk in midsummer. This small orchid has green foliage with white veins and grows to 6 inches tall. Rattlesnake orchids prefer moist soil and sun to partial shade.
Several bulb plants produce tall white and pink flower stalks. The surprise lily, or naked lady (Lycoris squamigera), blooms in late summer with pink flowers atop a 24-inch-long stalk. This perennial lily has green foliage that often dies back in the spring. The giant chincherinchee (Ornithogalum saundersiae) also blooms in late summer. It produces 5-foot-tall stalks topped with clusters of small white flowers. Giant chincherinchees have wide, linear foliage. Plant chincherinchee in rich, well-drained sites that receive morning sun and afternoon shade.
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- Colorado State University Extension; Ornamental Grasses; C.R. Wilson; December 2008
- NC State University; Ornamental Grasses; Erv Evans
- Clemson Cooperative Extension; Salvia; Karen Russ, et al.; April 1999
- NC State University; Salvia Sclarea; Erv Evans
- Rutgers Gardens; 2011 Spring Flower Fair; 2011
- Indiana University: Orchids