9 Best Perennials for Iowa Gardens to Maintain Year-Round Beauty

Best Perennials for Iowa Gardens

Beautiful Perennials are a fantastic choice for a garden center in Iowa. They offer a diverse range of hardy, low-maintenance plants that return year after year with minimal effort. Iowa’s climate, characterized by cold winters and warm, humid summers, is well-suited for a variety of perennial species that can withstand these conditions.

Key Features of Ideal Iowa Perennials

By selecting the right perennials, such as Coneflowers, lavender, Siberian iris, phlox subulata, peony pink flowers, white flowers, and Daylilies, Iowa gardeners can create vibrant, resilient gardens with beautiful blooms throughout the growing season.

This guide will explore the attractive perennial options for Iowa that will attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds in spring. It will provide tips on planting, care, and maintenance to help you achieve a gorgeous and sustainable garden for the longest bloomers and prevent pest flopping.

Best Perennials for Iowa

1. Cone Flowers

Coneflowers are popular perennials with good reason. They are heat and drought-resistant, easy to grow, bloom for months, make great cut flowers, and attract birds and pollinators. Plant coneflowers when small, with blooms on the way, in spring or early summer.

Although the plant can tolerate some shade, coneflower should generally be planted in an area that receives at least 6 hours of full sunlight a day. Tolerant of drought but does best in average, dry to medium moisture. Water regularly, but let the soil dry out in between. Coneflowers need at least an inch of water weekly

Cone flower’s herbal medicine has been used for centuries, customarily as a treatment for the common cold, coughs, bronchitis, upper respiratory infections, and some inflammatory conditions

2. Garden Phlox

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) is the most widely grown phlox species in home landscapes. Blooms first appear in mid-June in Iowa and may last for a month or more.

Tall garden phlox grows best in full sunlight but will tolerate light shade. It can also take a little afternoon shade. Phlox is tolerant of most garden soils, but well-drained soil is preferable, particularly in northern areas where spring snow is slow to drain.

Prepare your ground by tilling or hoeing about a foot deep, and mix in plenty of compost and mulch before planting. Give your phlox about an inch of water each week if rainfall isn’t sufficient, and keep them deadheaded to encourage more blooms.

The tea made from dried Phlox leaves is thought to purify blood and treat skin conditions such as boils or eczema. After steeping the roots in boiling water, the cooled water is sometimes used as an eyewash or even to treat venereal diseases

3. Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan is native to almost all of North America and can thrive in many different habitats. Plant new plants in the spring after all danger has passed, or plant them in the fall.

Highlights of 'Goldsturm' Black-eyed Susan

Give this bright bloomer a spot in full sun, although, in the hottest regions, a little afternoon shade won’t hurt. Plants survive in a partly shaded location, but flower numbers will be reduced. Black-eyed Susan isn’t picky about soil and thrives in average soil that drains well.

In Native American herbal medicines, an infusion of black-eyed susan roots has been used to treat colds, dropsy, and worms in children.

4. Russian sage

Russian Sage is an herbaceous perennial with an upright spreading habit of growth. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition and should be used to full effect. This relatively low-maintenance plant is best cut back to the ground in late winter before active growth resumes.

Russian sage grows best in warm climates and tolerates clay or average soils as long as the drainage is good. However, it needs full sun to produce lots of flowers and sturdy stems that won’t flop over as it grows taller. Russian sage prefers medium to dry soil and is drought-tolerant once established. Overwatering can cause disease and root rot.

A perennial plant with purple flowers, Russian sage not only looks great in a garden but also has a variety of medicinal benefits. Steep sage leaves in hot water for 15-30 minutes to create a medicinal tea that can help relieve stomach pain and indigestion. Tea made from Russian sage can also help break a fever.

5. Coreopsis

Flowers appear singly in loose clusters (cymes) in a profuse and lengthy late spring to late summer bloom. Shearing plants in mid-summer will promote a fall rebloom. Many species of Coreopsis have a reproductive strategy of perennializing through an abundant production of seedlings, while the plants have a short lifespan of 3–5 years. This is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies to your yard.

Regardless of the type you’re growing, coreopsis needs full sun, so plant them where they will receive at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Coreopsis grows best in well-drained, moderately moist soils. These are not good plants for a poorly drained, low spot in the yard. Water deeply whenever the soil is dry, about an inch down.

Amerindians used root tea for diarrhea and as an emetic. Dried tops in a tea to strengthen blood.

6. Day lilies

Daylilies are a great plant to make the transition from spring to midsummer. These are primarily June to July bloomers here in Iowa. They are named daylilies because each individual flower lasts only a single day. Daylilies are popular, easy-to-grow, low-maintenance perennials that are tough, long-lived, and tolerant of neglect.

Water when you plant them, and let them get to growing. If the weather is really dry, it would be good to water them every now and then. You can use some bulb fertilizer when you plant them, but you won’t need to fertilize them again. Daylilies need good drainage and full sun for at least half the day. They grow well in full sun, part sun, dappled shade, and even light shade. Plant lilies as soon as you get them, either in the fall or the spring.

In China, they are used as anodyne for women in childbirth, and an extract of the flowers is used as a blood purifier.

7. Beard tongue

Beardtongue is found in native prairies, roadsides, and other grassland areas throughout Iowa. This plant prefers acid, neutral, and alkaline soils and requires well-drained soils. It has an interesting contrast; it grows well when planted in open, dry situations and can grow in semi-shade or no shade.

The preference is full or partial sun, average moisture levels, and loamy soil. This plant matures quickly during the spring, and the flowering stalks often ascend above neighboring plants. Once established, it is drought-tolerant but will need regular water until it reaches that point.

Beardtongue as a medicinal remedy in the treatment of humans and animals. The roots were used to alleviate toothache, and the poultices of the leaves treated cuts and burns.

8. Allium

Allium stellatum occurs only in northwest Iowa. It is easy to grow and flowers in spring and early summer. It is best planted in well-drained soil. It thrives in full sun and is drought-tolerant. It propagates from offsets, aerial bulbils, or seeds. Allium is attractive to pollinators.

Alliums are drought tolerant, and watering plants grown in the ground is not usually necessary. Plants dislike summer irrigation because it may cause the bulbs to rot. Alliums grown in containers will need regular watering, but make sure the compost does not become waterlogged.

The economically most important Allium crop species (common onion and garlic) are used worldwide as spices, vegetables, and medicinal plants. Traditionally, they also play a very important role in the daily diet in Asia.

9. Salvia

Salvias (also called sages) are a diverse group of plants that offer colorful flowers, scents, and even flavors.

Salvia is treated as an annual in Iowa. While garden sage (Salvia officinalis) is a commonly grown culinary herb, several variegated forms are also attractive ornamental plants. Feed salvias in pots from late spring to early autumn, with a high-potash feed such as tomato food.

Most salvias thrive in sheltered, sunny positions in well-drained soil that retains some moisture. This makes them well-suited to south-facing borders, gravel gardens, and raised beds.Many Salvias are well adapted to hot areas. This list contains some of the best for warm-to-hot climates. Many are also drought-resistant.

In traditional medicine, it is used to relieve pain and protect the body against oxidative stress, free radical damage, angiogenesis, inflammation, and bacterial and virus infection.


Perennial flowers are ideal for Iowa due to their adaptability to the state’s diverse climate, providing a sustainable and low-maintenance gardening option. These plants’ ability to survive harsh winters and thrive in the fertile soil ensures vibrant and resilient gardens year after year.

Additionally, perennials contribute to the local ecosystem by supporting pollinators and promoting biodiversity. To prevent perennials from flopping in Iowa, select sturdy plant varieties and ensure proper planting techniques for long-lasting blooms.

Most perennials, blooming seasons, and long-lasting nature make them a valuable investment for gardeners looking to create pretty enduring landscapes in Iowa.

Johan Perez
Johan Perez is an experienced agriculturalist with over twenty years in the field. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences and has contributed extensively to research on sustainable farming practices. Johan has also written for numerous agricultural periodicals, offering expert advice on farming technologies and methods. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor adventures, which often inform his professional insights into ecological agriculture.

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