Perennial Giants

I’ve always had a secret desire to play with the big boys. At last I have my chance, I can do it in my garden by growing tall perennial plants.

Perennial Giants with Sensible Gardening and Living

When we think of tall perennials we usually see them placed at the back of a perennial border. You can break this rule and plan for a tall garden where the big cousins can all play together in the same garden bed. Most of these giant perennials will reach up to 5 feet tall so think about where you plant such a garden.

Hollyhock / Sensible Gardening and Living
Hollyhock / Sensible Gardening and Living

You would not want to ruin or hide a gorgeous view for instance. As in any other garden plan you must know which plants will be suitable for your climate and growing conditions. Once that is established you can be selective and choose for shape, size and color. Mix foliage plants with tall perennial flowers to give more texture to your planting. A few well placed evergreens amongst the perennials will create winter stability and interest as the perennials die down for the season. Create a cool garden with hues of blues and purples or a hot one with yellows and oranges. It’s really all up to your personal choice.

Verbascum / Sensible Gardening and Living

There is a long list of available tall growing perennials to choose from but I have some favorites. Hollyhocks remind me of days gone by. Reaching up to 8 feet tall they look stunning up against a wall or fence. There are many cultivars with double flowers in a great array of color tones. Alliums, or better known as ornamental onions are very unique. Allium giganteum grows from a bulb and produces a flower head 4 inches in diameter comprised of 50 or more tiny star shaped mauve flowers. Wild parsnip is another robust towering plant. Woodland angelica grows to 6 feet tall with white or pink flowers and 2 foot long leaves.

Persicaria / Sensible Gardening and Living

Goatsbeard has 3 foot fern like leaves and will reach a height of 6 feet and a width of 4 feet. Boltonia resembles an aster flower and blooms in the fall. Stems can reach up to 7 feet. If you like flowers of soft yellow tones try cephalaria gigantea. Six feet tall covered in sulphur yellow pincushion type flowers. For fun grow Cardoon or globe artichoke. With silver gray flower buds which explode into purple thistle like flowers they make a great architectural specimen. Delphiniums are extremely attractive with a range of rich colors and striking stalks of flowers. Those from the Elatum Group are among the largest.

Centaura at Sensible Gardening and Living
Centaura / Pineapple Plant


Foxtail Lilies are another beauty reaching high levels of 6 feet. They boast long tails of starry flowers in white, yellow oranges or pink tones. Eryngium may be prickly but is also very stunning. Thistle like greenish white flowers in late summer are held on 5 foot stems. Gunnera looks like it belongs in the jungle.  Reaching 10 feet tall it has rounded lobed leaves with a span up to 5 feet wide.

My favorite is probably the Plume Poppy. It has leaves of 5 to 7 lobes and large delicate spires of creamy white flowers.  They seldom require staking, nothing seems to bother them and they will also self seed. They are perfect for a semi wild border.

These are just a sampling of the giants that are great fun to grow. Others to try are Hosta, Astilboides, Ornamental Grasses, Thanlictrum, Yucca, Culver’s Root, Ox-eye Daisy, Goldenrod, Coneflower, Rodgersia, Solomon’s Seal, Ligularia, Torch Lily, Filipendula, Joe Pye Weed, Baptisia, and Monkshood. They all make for great gardening adventure.
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