While Iowa may be better known for its corn and soybeans, gardeners can grow many beautiful perennials. Most of Iowa is in zone 5 while a little bit of its northern part is in zone 4.
Being sure to choose a plant that thrives in your location is an important place to start, but you also need to consider the amount of light that an area gets to choose the right plant.
You also need to know your soil type so that you can adjust it as needed or choose a plant that works well in that soil.
Here are 10 fabulous perennials that thrive in Iowa.
You can choose between six classes of peonies. Single peonies have one row of petals surrounding a center disc. Japanese peonies have a partially transomed stamen while anemone peonies have petal-like stamen. Semi-double and double peonies have two rows of petals surrounding the stamen. Finally, bomb peonies have a globular bloom, and they usually have short guard petals.
If you want to attract butterflies to your yard in the fall, then the Joe Pye weed may be the perfect plant for you. This plant that grows from 4-to-7-feet tall blooms in late summer and throughout the fall. Four to six white flowers appear in a cluster on each erect stem.
Black-eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’
The black-eyed Susan Goldstream has a single ray of bright yellow flowers surrounding a black center disk. This fall bloomer loves the sun, and it will tolerate many different soil conditions. Each flower can be up to 4-inches in diameter and appears on a compact plant that rarely grows over 2-feet tall.
Virginia bluebells are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring. Each plant grows to be about 2-feet tall, and the blue, trumpet-shaped flowers appear in terminal clusters. Iowans should plant this flower where it gets some protection from the afternoon sun or where it gets shade all the time.
Lily-of-the-valley is a plant that grows to be about 12-inches tall and will spread indefinitely. It forms leaf clumps with an erect stem growing out of the center of each clump. Tiny white flowers appear on these flower stems in April. While the five to 10 flowers on each plant may not last long, you will love the elliptic green leaves on this plant that are up to 10-inches long.
The dark green leaves on this plant stand in stark contrast to its white flowers, making this option a showstopper in Iowa gardens. The plume-like flowers on this plant that loves at least six hours of sunlight daily appear in April and May. If you want this choice to bloom, then make sure to plant more than one because it is dioecious.
Ligularia ‘The Rocket’
If you are looking for a plant to put in a shady spot in your rain garden, then ligularia the rocket may be the perfect option. Large, daisy-like flowers that are lemon yellow appear on long spikes in mid-to-late summer. Leaf wilt is a problem for this plant, so choose a spot with a lot of shade.
Often called white Nancy, Lamium will grow up to 2-feet tall in the right conditions. This shade-loving plant grows white flowers in the spring, but the main reason that Iowans love this plant is its shiny, dark green foliage. This option is an excellent choice if you have areas where its hard to water.
Creeping phlox will tolerate poor soil, but it hates wet feet, so be sure to plant this option that grows to be about 24-inches tall in an area that drains well. This sun-loving plant puts on five flat, petal-like flowers in early spring. You can find creeping phlox in a variety of colors, with some choices being two-toned.
This clump-forming plant has blue-green foliage that often grows up to 2-feet tall. Out of each clump’s center grows a flower-bearing stem in May that usually towers a foot above the clump. On that stem will appear three-to-five flowers with upright standards and drooping to falling standards. Tip: This plant that butterflies find irresistible needs lots of moisture.