Best Perennials
for Container Gardens

While old "classics" may be among the best perennials for container gardens, there are also new ones introduced every year. Only a few of those will stand the test of time and become classics.

In the past few years, many new perennials have been introduced. Heritage Perennials chose their top 8 that will work in container gardens.


Fire Spinner

Double Coneflower

Clematis Bijou

Helleborus s nigercors "Honeyhill Joy"

Iberis Masterpiece Candytuft

Black-eyed Susan Little Goldstar

Commotion Blanket Flower

Heuchera "Spellbound"

New varieties of plants are introduced every years. Keep up to date with what is new for your to try by visiting websites, subscribing to free catalogs and visiting nurseries or garden centers.

My favorite perennials for container gardens are coreopsis, coneflower and yarrow for sun. I also have sempervivum (hens and chicks) that came up on their own in an old pot the first summer I lived in my house. The previous owner had planted them and 13 years later they are still growing. I re-potted them once!

I also have daylilies, coral bells, clematis, salvia, ajuga, ivy, vinca, nettle and hostas that I use in areas with partial shade to sun - dianthus and ferns too - almost forgot them.

Below is a list of recommended perennials for container gardens. Maybe some are already your favorites, but there may be some new ones for you to try growing as well. To find others, visit (National Gardening Association).

Enter your hardiness zone, plant type "perennial", special features "good in containers". You will get lots of recommendations.

Narrow your search by color, bloom time, sun, etc.

To make sure you are able to enjoy your perennials from year to year, learn how to overwinter them.

To protect roots from freezing in the winter, or overheating in the summer, try insulating your pots before planting. For square or rectangular containers, use rigid polystyrene insulation to line the container. For large round or curved planters, try bubble wrap. Just insulate the sides – not the bottom – don’t cover up any drainage holes.

Full sun

Achillea (Yarrow)

Armeria (Common Thrift, Sea Pink)


Cerastium (Snow in Summer)

Coreopsis (Tickseed)

Echinacea (Coneflower)

Geranium-Hardy (Cranesbill)


Sempervivum (Hen & Chicks)

Thymus (Creeping Thyme)

Partial shade to full sun

Bergenia (Heartleaf Bergenia, Pig Squeak)

Campanula (Bellflower)


Dendranthema (Hardy Garden Mum)

Dianthus (Pinks)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Heucherella (Foamy Bells)

Houttuynia (Chameleon Plant)

Iris ensata (Japanese Iris)


Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny, Moneywort)

Lysimachia punctata (Variegated Loosestrife)

Myosotis (Forget-Me-Not)

Phlox subulata (Creeping Phlox)

Polemonium (Jacob's Ladder)

Primula (Primrose)

Pulmonaria (Lungwort, Bethlehem Sage)


Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower)

Sedum (Stonecrop)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

When you purchase perennials for containers, they will have planting instructioins that indicate whether they are best grown in full sun, partial sun or partial sun/shade. Full sun is at least 6 hours per day. Partial sun is 3 to 6 hours. Partial sun or shade indicates plants should receive filtered or dappled sunlight throughout the day.

Partial shade to partial sun




Lamium (nettle)

Tiarella (Foamflower)

Shade to full sun

Ajuga (Bugleweed)

Alchemilla (Lady's Mantle)

Heuchera (Coral Bells)


Vinca (minor)

See additional information about shade gardening.

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Some lovely perennials that flower for a while and then have wonderful foliage to enjoy all season are


and Heucheras