Best Perennial Plants for Minnesota Gardens

perennial plants for minnesota gardens

Perennial plants are a critical component of any successful garden. While planting new and exciting annuals each season can be fun, perennials serve as staples that keep your landscaping grounded. However, every part of the country is different regarding what perennial plants are the best. The most ideal perennial plants for Minnesota must stand up to extreme weather and often not ideal conditions.

So, what are the top perennials for Minnesota? We can learn a little more about the climate and which Minnesota perennials are the most suitable for this climate zone.

What Are Perennials?

Perennial plants are plants that grow and live for more than two seasons. These plants establish their roots in the ground, and while their flowers or even the whole plant may die and wither during the winter, the roots survive, and the plant regrows each spring season. Perennials are most often contrasted with annual plants, which live for just one season. After the summer, annual plants will die. You remove them with the rest of the weeds in the spring and plant new ones.

Many people prefer to plant perennials for Minnesota because they are low-maintenance perennials Minnesota residents can grow. Some Minnesota perennials will go through their life cycle all on their own, while other perennial plants Minnesota offers only require minimal trimming or pruning to keep them growing back fuller each year.

When Do Perennials Grow?

Each perennial plant will differ slightly in terms of care, maintenance, and growing habits, but most perennial plants for Minnesota come out of dormancy in the spring. Some Minnesota perennials will follow the patterns of the weather, blooming as soon as it starts to warm up outside. 

Other perennials for Minnesota wait until the summer to begin blooming. Certain plants may only bloom once in the spring, while others will continue to bloom until the fall cools the weather down.

What Is Minnesota’s Growing Climate Like?

Plants are often separated based on their plant hardiness zone. These zones determine which plants can survive and thrive based on temperatures and weather conditions. The state of Minnesota is in USDA Zone 4. Many other states are also considered Zone 4, including:

  • Northern Idaho
  • Parts of Colorado
  • Alaska
  • South Dakota
  • North Dakota

Zone 4 temperatures reach a low of -20 to -30 degrees. The northernmost parts of Minnesota are sometimes considered Zone 3, reaching minimum temperatures of -40 degrees.

Full Sun Perennials in Minnesota

There are many full sun perennials Minnesota can grow. These Minnesota perennials enjoy lots of sunlight, so be sure to keep them in unshaded areas where the plants can access direct sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours every day.

#1. Peony

The peony plant is one of the most stunning perennials for Minnesota you can find when it comes to full sun perennials Minnesota has to offer. This herbaceous perennial can survive in both Zones 3 and 4, making it ideal to plant on your Minnesota property.

Peony flowers bloom in shades of pink, white, rose, red, and even purple. The blooms of these perennial plants for Minnesota are large, round, and showy with dozens of soft, full petals in big clusters. They bloom on woody shrubs that can become quite large – as big as a 4-foot diameter.

#2. Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum, or “mum,” has a few varieties that do very well in the cold weather, including the Mammoth Red Daisy Garden Mum. These full-sun perennials for Minnesota establish well in gardens and are super hardy, surviving the harshest winters.

The flowers bloom in deep shapes of red and feature a standout yellow center, adding the perfect touch of color. These Minnesota perennials are some of the best low-maintenance perennials Minnesota can host.

#3. Common Yarrow

One of the perennial plants Minnesota can grow, the common yarrow is a hardy yet beautiful plant that does well in Zones 3 and 4, making it one of the greatest Minnesota perennial garden ideas. Yarrow, also known as thousand leaf and poor man’s pepper, can grow to be 3 feet tall and wide. It’s excellent for filling gaps in your landscaping.

Yarrow plants bloom clusters of feathery flowers in colors like yellow, pink, white, purple, orange, and red. These full sun perennials Minnesota residents love do well in poor soil and withstand freezing winters well. The best types of yarrow for Minnesota include summer pastel yarrow, paprika yarrow, and moonshine yarrow.

#4. Butterfly Weed

The butterfly weed is an appropriately named plant, as its bright blossoms attract butterflies. These herbaceous perennial plants for Minnesotal enjoy vibrant sun exposure to warm its orange and yellow flowers. It blooms in clusters of tiny star-shaped flowers that are stunning.

Butterfly weeds, which are full sun perennials Minnesota offers, grow in clumps and feature long, thick leaves. These Minnesota perennials bloom from spring to late summer, though some plants can take up to three years to flower. These perennials for Minnesota are hardy plants perfect for Zones 3 and 4 and often serve as a native wildflower in the state of Minnesota.

Perennials In Minnesota

Shade Perennials in Minnesota

Your home may not get enough sunlight to sustain full sun perennials for Minnesota like the ones above, but there are plenty of other options for your Minnesota perennial garden ideas. Below are a few of the best shade perennials for Minnesota that will do just fine with minimal sunlight.

#1. Virginia Bluebell

Perhaps one of the daintiest and prettiest perennial plants Minnesota boasts is the Virginia bluebell. Virginia bluebells, one of the best shade perennials for Minnesota, sprout gorgeous clusters of little bell-shaped flowers that bloom in stunning shades of blue and purple.

These Minnesota perennials do well in the state’s frigid climate. Plant these perennial plants for Minnesota early in the spring and be rewarded with its spectacular flowers throughout the summer. The plant requires minimal sun but does need an ample amount of water.

#2. Lavender

Lavenders are great low-maintenance perennials Minnesota residents can enjoy just about anywhere on their property. While lavender does just fine in full sunlight, it’s not picky at all and will grow very well in the shade, making it one of the best shade perennials for Minnesota

Lavender is famous for its calming fragrance, tall stems, and purple flowers.

These perennials for Minnesota grow moderately fast and bloom in the summer before going dormant in the colder weather. While a severe winter may wipe out a few of your plants, you’ll find lavender is pretty hardy and does well in Zone 4.

#3. Russian Sage

Similar to lavender, Russian sage grows in tall stalks that sprout small, purple flowers. These hardy Minnesota perennials are ideal for the cold, harsh weather conditions of Minnesota. They tough it out against the winter and bloom again come springtime.

Russian sage is also very low maintenance. These perennial plants for Minnesota will blossom in the sun, but they will also grow just as well in full shade. These Minnesota perennials grow and spread very quickly, which can be good or bad depending on your taste. Keep it contained in planters or use it as a lovely border plant.

#4. Hardy Geraniums

The hardy geranium may not have an attractive name, but the flowers are anything but ugly for being one of the perennial plants Minnesota can grow. These flowering perennials for Minnesota are another plant that’s not picky about its sunlight. The hardy geranium will grow just about anywhere without care for the sunlight or soil it’s in.

These delicate blooms take the traditional shape of a flower with thin petals and a light center. There are several different varieties of these perennial plants for Minnesota, so you can expect a full range of colors. As its name suggests, the hardy geranium is tough and withstands cold winters, making it one of the best shade perennials for Minnesota.

Another positive about these Minnesota perennials is that it’s known to attract pollinators like butterflies and bees, making them an excellent addition to your Minnesota perennial garden ideas.

low-maintenance perennials minnesota

Final Thoughts

The best perennial plants for Minnesota gardens can brighten up your landscaping and transform your yard, turning it into a garden filled with low-maintenance perennials Minnesota weather can foster.

Despite the harsh, cold winters that Minnesota sees, the team at Architectural Landscape Design can make your yard beautiful and Minnesota perennial garden ideas come alive with our professional landscaping services. We have been servicing the Twin Cities for over 17 years with creative and functional landscaping.
Contact us today to talk about your upcoming project. We’d love to get started!