3 Easy to grow perennial flowers that go well together
Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) produces tall wispy white-gray stems laden with small lavender-blue colored flowers. Lightly scented, Russian sage grows to about 4 feet tall and almost as wide. Take clippings to use in a floral arrangement. Dry flower clippings for craft projects. Plant Russian sage in USDA planting zones 4 through 9.
The daisy-like blooms of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) are purplish pink with a rust colored, cone-shaped center. The plant grows to 3 to 4 feet tall and about 2 feet wide. When I cut blooms to take inside, I look for buds on the same stem to make the cut above the bud, leaving it outside to bloom later. Purple coneflower does not dry well; however, if you leave the stems and cone heads on the plant to dry outside into the fall, the dried stems can be cut and used alone or with other dried flowers in a vase. Purple coneflower grows from Michigan south and west to Texas, east to Florida, and back up the east coast into New York and all the areas in between. Be sure to watch this flower in the fall to see birds, like American goldfinch, picking at the drying seed cone.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) does not bloom the first year, but the second year, look for an abundance of flat-top blooms. Yarrow blooms may be yellow, red, off-white, light pink or salmon colored, though yellow seems to go best with Russian sage and purple coneflower. The plant grows 1 to 3 feet tall and about 2 feet wide. Cut stems for floral arrangements or for dryings. Plant yarrow in USDA zones 4 through 8.
Apply an all-purpose fertilizer during the blooming season according to the manufacturer's instructions. Spread 2 to 3 inches of mulch, like pine chips, around the base of the flowers to help retain moisture and block weed growth. In the spring, cut Russian sage back to about 6 inches above the ground. In the fall, after yarrow wilts from the cold, cut to the ground. Cut the stems of purple coneflower to ground in late fall or allow the seeded stems to remain to feed the birds into winter, and then remove in the spring.
When funds are tight, purchase one plant each and then propagate them about every three years. In the spring when new growth first appears or in the fall after the plant has died back, dig up the root ball and break the clump into three to five more plants. When the root system is dense, I use hand pruners to cut through the roots. Don't worry; the plant will survive after cutting some of the roots. Plant immediately and keep the soil moist. Stop watering fall plantings when the ground freezes.