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Sunshine in the garden is how I like to describe yellow perennial flowers. Ok, that may sound a little cheesy, but they really are bright lights in a perennial bed. While all the other bloom colours blend into a rich tapestry in the garden, it’s the golden hues that really stand out.
In the spring, the vibrant yellow of spurge and forsythia provides a cheerful antidote to the drab winter tones that have dominated the garden. Then come the summer blooms with coneflowers and coreopsis, while chrysanthemums and black eyed Susans provide those harvest shades that carry us through autumn. Of course there are some lovely yellow annuals, too, like sunflowers and marigolds. I had to add those. But let’s start with some yellow perennial flowers to brighten up your garden.
Yellow perennial flowers for spring
A member of the Euphorbia genus, spurge is a lovely mounding early-spring-blooming perennial. That is the time of year to enjoy the bright yellow bracts. I have one under my living room window, where I can admire it indoors, and one out in my front garden where you can see it shine from the street. I have ‘Bonfire’, and have found it to be quite hardy and drought-resistant. It doesn’t mind the afternoon shade it gets in the garden under my window, and also thrives in full sun in my front garden.
Forsythia is one of my favourite spring-blooming shrubs. Depending on the year, it usually blooms in April. I love to force branches snipped from my backyard indoors, and when it finally blooms outdoors, it absolutely glows. After the blooms have died off, be sure to prune it right away as the blooms for next year develop on this year’s branches. Throughout the summer, it’s just a nice green leafy shrub. And when the deer make their way into my yard in winter to nibble on my cedars, they don’t bother with the forsythia.
A member of the buttercup family, the yellow flowers of this cheerful, low-growing tuberous perennial is one of the first to appear in spring. I usually forget where they are until they make their appearance. If you are planting them, place them under taller perennials as a groundcover. Plant tubers in the fall about six inches apart, and be sure to dig them in at least five inches deep to protect from winter conditions.
Yellow perennials for summer
Also known as tickseed, this is another native plant that will attract the bees and butterflies to your garden. Coreopsis is drought tolerant and should be deadheaded to encourage a longer bloom time. There are lots of interesting varieties to choose from, and annual choices, as well.
While pink is the hue most commonly associated with coneflowers, there are some pretty yellow varieties. They like part sun to full sun, and don’t mind drier conditions throughout the summer. They provide winter interest in the garden lookswise, but are also a food source for birds. In the summer they are a magnet for bees and butterflies.
While it’s usually the centre of the Shasta daisy that is yellow, there are some golden varieties, too. A nice lush foliage makes them stand out in the garden and they’ll bloom through late summer. Plant one and it will spread out in the garden—be sure to divide them every two to three years. And don’t forget to deadhead!
Yellow perennials that bloom through fall
Black-eyed Susans are quintessential summer perennial flowers that are native to North America. Not only will you see them in gardens, but I’ve seen them growing in ditches and meadows, and along hiking trails. Members of the sunflower family, they make great cut flowers in summer bouquets and bloom through October. They love the sun and the pollinators love them! Leave the seed heads for the birds in winter.
Chrysanthemums are among the very last flowers still in bloom at the end of the season. They are pretty common at the garden centre come fall, displayed among hay bales and other harvest-themed décor. And as the garden fades, yellow mums are a standout. The mums in my garden come back every year. If I buy any new mums from an autumn display, even if they’ve been raised in a greenhouse, I’ll try to overwinter them in my garden. Over the years, some have come back, and others haven’t.
Marigolds are a mainstay in my raised beds. I plant them along the borders each year because visually they look nice, the pollinators love them, and they are said to repel various pests, like nematodes under the soil. Gem varieties can be used as a trap crop for Japanese beetles. Apparently densely planted African marigolds have been proven to kill bindweed, so perhaps that’s a goal I should apply to the side of my home where bindweed makes me want to move.
I love to grow different varieties of nasturtiums each year in my pots and raised beds, and there are some lovely yellow varieties. They make a nice spiller, cascading over the edge of their container. Both the flowers and leaves are edible, which is fun when you’re putting together salads for summer potlucks. Pollinators love them and they’re easy to grow from seed.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention sunflowers—the word sun is right there in the name! There are endless varieties of sunflowers, from heritage varieties full of pollen for the bees and butterflies, and pollen-less varieties for those who wish to cut them for flower bouquets without the mess. And if you want the seeds to munch on, there are those varieties, too! Sunflowers are easy to grow from seed and look great at the back of a veggie garden—so they don’t shade out the veggies you’re growing, of course.