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Perennials are plants that come back year after year adding a variety of textures, scents, colors, and heights to your garden. Perennials can be used to plant a border, an island of plants, a formal garden, country garden, ornamental garden or herb garden, just to name a few. Perennials can be planted by themselves or incorporated with annuals for constant summer color. You can coordinate plants by color or select plants of different colors, textures, bloom times and heights. With the latter you will have a colorful garden all season long. 

Be aware of the amount of sun or shade your beds receive throughout the day as it will help you select proper plants for your garden. Look for perennials that are zoned for your area. This information is noted on our plant tags. Northern Illinois is Zone 5 and Southern Wisconsin is Zone 4. If the plant’s number is higher than your zone number, those perennials may not winter over in your area. Most perennials like a well drained soil but we have some varieties that prefer moist soils such as Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower), Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed), Filipendula rubra (Queen of the Prairie), Sibirian Iris, Ligularia stenocephala (Leopard Plant) and Trollius chinensis (Globe Flower). If you check our lists in our perennial department, not only will you find more perennials for moist or dry areas, but also lists of perennials that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, deer resistant plants, long blooming perennials and more. Our perennial specialists can also help you pick out perennials for the right areas so that you can enjoy your perennials for a long time.

Current trends of adding perennials to planters broaden choices of plants even more. Ground covers such as Lamium maculatum ‘Pink Pewter’ works out very well for the shade planters with the soft silvery leaves contrasting the colors of the annuals. Perhaps Rudbeckia ‘Pot of Gold’ PP11,929 or Coreopsis verticillata ‘Golden Showers’ would be a good choice for planters due to their long bloom time. Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel’ PP16,560 is a great choice for a container garden adding unique foliage color and texture. Don’t expect them to winter over in your planters but you can transplant them in the fall.

Among our amazing selection of flowering perennials, you will also find groundcovers, stepables, flowering vines, ornamental grasses, natives, fruits and perennial herbs. We restock our perennials constantly as new plants become retail ready. Sign up for our newsletter and planting tips and we will keep you informed as new varieties of perennials are ready. For more information on perennials, please visit

Perennial Plant of the Year 2011

The 2011 perennial plant of the year is Amsonia hubrichtii, a native of Arkansas and Oklahoma and was first discovered growing in Arkansas in 1942 by Leslie Hubricht.  Amsonia hubrichtii forms a mound 36” tall by 36” wide and does best in full sun and partial shade and in well-drained soil. Once established, this plant is drought tolerant. Light blue star-shaped flowers bloom in the spring providing light green foliage all summer. This plant is actually grown for its spectacular fall color, as the feathery foliage turns golden-yellow. What’s more, it is deer resistant and no insect or disease pests are known to attack Arkansaw blue star which is hardy in zones 4 to 9. Perfect for our area! Enjoy this blue star all three seasons: spring, summer and fall.

Perennial Plant of the Year 2010

The 2010 perennial plant of the year is Baptisia australis (Blue False Indigo), a fantastic North American native plant!  It is best planted in a sunny location and can take average to poor soil as long as it is well-drained. This plant will become drought tolerant once established and is best left undisturbed. It attracts butterflies and generally deer do not bother it. Look for a fantastic flower display in May and June and afterward green seed pods will emerge which turn charcoal black adding fall and early winter interest. When fully mature, this three to four foot tall and wide plant will give a shrub-like appearance and create a great back drop in the perennial garden. 

Hosta Plant of the Year 2011

The Hosta plant of the year for 2011 is ‘Praying Hands’.  This very unique hosta gets its name from the narrow tightly folded leaves that resemble hands folded in prayer.  This medium sized cultivar with dark green rippled leaves with narrow gold margins is a great vertical accent in any shade garden. If you are a hosta collector, don’t miss out on this one!

Plants News

Excitement is in the air as new varieties of perennial plants are displayed. New varieties of Echinaceas like ‘Hot Papaya’ PPAF, a double reddish orange that doesn’t fade, or ‘Meringue’PPAF, white petals with a creamy yellow pom-pom, and ‘Tomato Soup’PP19427 are the current trend.  We’re still excited about 2009’s ‘Green Envy’PPAF and ‘Coconut Lime’PP18,617 which bloomed a very long time!  This year, look for Echinacea ‘Marmalade’PPAF, a two-toned, fully double, marmalade-orange pom pom coneflower, which will truly attract attention!  It certainly has caught our attention!  Other new Echinaceas for 2011 are purpurea ‘Pink Poodle’, purpurea ‘Pow Wow™ Wild Berry’, x hybrid ‘Maui Sunshine’, ‘Firebird’ and ‘Tangerine Dream’.

New daisies on the menu this year are superbum ‘Razzle Dazzle’, a fringed flower with yellow centers that bloom mid to late summer and superbum ‘Banana Cream’, a prolific bloomer early to late summer in creamy yellow.  All daisies have a pretty long bloom time but Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Switzerland’ is one of the longest bloomers providing color June through August, great for long season color. Our collection of daisies is fantastic and some have very different petal shapes and are real showstoppers! 

The list wouldn’t be complete without ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ PPAF, Lobelia cardinalis which is fast growing and vigorous with tomato red flowers July through September. Some of our newest selections sound more like food choices!  Yum!  Yum!

Two new Delphiniums take the stage this spring, Delphinium elatum ’Crystal Delight’ and ‘Sweet Sensation’ PPAF which will be a great addition for those in need of rabbit and deer resistant plants.  Along with its spectacular height (48 – 56”) and double blossoms in June and July, ‘Crystal Light’ brings in a new coloring for delphiniums with lilac and green center flowers.  ‘Sweet Sensation’ PPAF also shows double bloom in June and July but flowers in deep mauve tipped with blue-green on strong stems.  With its height only at 24” tall and spread of 12” wide, ‘Sweet Sensation’ could also be used in a container garden. What a pair of spectacular larkspur!

Heuchera  ‘Miracle’ PPAF is truly sensational as it goes through several changes in leaf coloration throughout the seasons. In the spring, the young foliage is chartreuse with red in the center.  As the foliage matures, it turns brick red with only a bright chartreuse edge and silvered undersides. Being a small miracle at 8 to 10” tall and only 10” wide, this Heuchera belongs in the front of the garden or along a walkway where its unusual color change can be enjoyed. ‘Electra’ PPAF PVR, another new Heuchera  for 2010 with changing colors displays golden leaves with red veins in Spring changing to chartreuse in summer and fall and tan in the winter.  Heuchera ‘Mint Julep’ PPAF PVR will brighten up any shady spot in the garden with its mint green and silver leaves while Heuchera ‘Sugar Plum’ adds a frosty plum purple color with silvery pink flowers to the garden.

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In 2011 you will find Heuchera ‘Blackout’R, a compact mound of jet black foliage which blooms creamy white flowers and will wow your garden when contrasted with ‘Lime Rickey’ or combined with Heuchera ‘Amethyst Myst’ for a softer look.  Also in 2011, Heuchera ‘Hercules’® as the name implies is a very strong grower forming a clump of marbled green and white foliage with deep red flowers. Heuchera ‘Root Beer’ will grow in full sun to part shade in stunning shades of root beer. Not all Heucheras will do well in full sun so this is a bonus!  You will find these and more Heuchera varieties here at the Gurnee Garden Center.

The last couple of years we carried Coreopsis Big BangTM ‘Full Moon’ PP19,364 and Coreopsis Big Bang™ ‘Redshift’ PP20,412. These are fantastic as they give you color in June and last till frost.  Make way, as three new coreopsis from this series has arrived:  Coreopsis Big BangTM ‘Cosmic Eye’ PPAF,‘Galaxy’ PPAF and ‘Star Cluster’ PPAF.  Tiarella cordifolia ‘Susquehanna’ PPAF, a ground cover that can cover up to 2 feet in one season while Tiarella cordifolia ‘Lehigh’ PPAF provides apple green leaves with maroon centers.  Yes, lime and apple greens are the popular colors especially for shady spots as they brighten and add depth to a shade garden.  The list goes on so come have fun and check out all the new perennials!

Complete List of New Perennials for 2010 and 2011

Listed below are some of the new perennials for 2010 and 2011 that can be found at the Gurnee Garden Center this spring:

  • Achillea (Yarrow) millefolium ‘Pomegranate’
  • Achillea (Yarrow) millefolium ‘Sunny Seduction’
  • Agastache x. ‘Black Adder’ PPAF
  • Agastache (Anise Hyssop) foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’
  • Agastache ‘Red Fortune’
  • Alcea (Hollyhock) rosea ‘Queeny Purple’ and ‘Queeny Red’
  • Alcea (Hollyhock) rosea ‘Spotlight Mars Magic’
  • Anemone coronaria ‘Harmony Blue’
  • Anemone coronaria ‘Harmony Orchid’
  • Anemone coronaria ‘Harmony Scarlet’
  • Aquilegia Canadensis ‘Little Lanterns’
  • Aquilegia x.c. ‘Origami Yellow’
  • Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Ruby Port’
  • Aster novi-belgii ‘Blue Henry I’
  • Aster novi-belgii ‘Pink Henry I’
  • Aster novi-belgii ‘Pink Magic’
  • Aster (Hardy Aster) lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’
  • Aster novae-angliae ‘Vibrant Dome’
  • Astilbe (False Spirea) ‘Delft Lace’
  • Astilbe (False Spirea) chinensis ‘Love & Pride’ (PP19093
  • Astilbe (false Spirea) ‘Milk and Honey’
  • Buddleia Davidii ‘Asian Moon’
  • Campanula glomerata ‘Freya’
  • Campanula ‘Viking’ PPAF
  • Clematis ‘Jackmanii Superba’
  • Coreopsis Big Bang™ ‘Cosmic Eye’ PPAF
  • Coreopsis Big Bang™ ‘Galaxy’ PPAF
  • Coreopsis Big Bang™ ‘Star Cluster’ PPAF
  • Coreopsis Grandiflora ‘Presto’
  • Coreopsis verticillata ‘Route 66’
  • Coreopsis ‘Sienna Sunset’ PP20,470
  • Delphinium Elatum ‘Aurora Light Blue’
  • Delphinium Elatum ‘Blushing Brides’
  • Delphinium ‘Crystal Delight’ PP20,339
  • Delphinium Elatum ‘Excalibur’™ Mix
  • Delphinium Elatum ‘Moonlight Blues’
  • Delphinium ‘Sweet Sensation’ PP20,341
  • Dicentra x hybrid ‘Red Fountain’
  • Dicentra spectabilis ‘Valentine’
  • Digitalis ‘Candy Mountain’
  • Echinacea ‘Firebird’
  • Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’ PPAF
  • Echinacea ‘Irresistible’ PP20756
  • Echinacea ‘Marmalade’ PPAF
  • Echinacea x hybrid ‘Maui Sunshine’
  • Echinacea ‘Meringue’ PPAF
  • Echinacea (Coneflower) purpurea ‘Pink Poodle’ PP19428
  • Echinacea Purpurea ‘Pow Wow™ Wild Berry’
  • Echinacea ‘Tangerine Dream’
  • Echinacea ‘Tomato Soup’ PP19427
  • Epimedium (Barrenwort, Bishops’s hat x ‘Rubrum’
  • Eupatorium (Joe-Pye Weed)’ Baby Joe’
  • Euphorbia x hybrid ‘Ascot Rainbow’
  • Euphorbia (Spurge) amygdaloides ‘Blackbird’ PP17178
  • Euphorbia Characias  ‘Glacier Blue’
  • Gaillardia (Blanket Flower) ‘Frenzy’ PP19943
  • Gaillardia (Blanket Flower) aristata ‘Sunburst Scarlet Halo’
  • Gaura (Wand Flower) lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ pp17293
  • Gaura (Wand Flower) lindheimeri ‘Passionate Rainbow’ PP17002
  • Geranium ‘Orkney Cherry’ PP18,263
  • Geranium ‘Tiny Monster’
  • Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ PPAF
  • Helenium ‘Double trouble’ PP18,206
  • Helleborus Winter Thrillers™ ‘Green Gambler’
  • Helleborus Winter Thrillers™ ‘Midnight Ruffles’
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily) ‘Brave Heart’
  • Hemerocallis (Dalily) ‘Bright sunset’
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily) ‘Mauna Loa’
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily) ‘Resurrection Yellow’
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily) ‘Salieri’
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily) ‘Soft Summer Night’
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily) ‘South Seas’
  • Hemerocallis (Daylily) ‘Strawberry Field’
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Amethyst Myst’
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Blackout’R PP20,613
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Electra’ PPAF PVR
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Hercules’® PPAF
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Lime Marmalade’ PPAF EU-derived variety
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) x hybrida ‘Malachite’
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Midas Touch’ PPAF EU-derived variety
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Midnight Bayou’ PPAF PVR
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells)’ Mint Julep’ PPAF-PVR
  • Heuchera (coral Bells) ‘Miracle’ PPAF
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) villosa ‘Pinot Bianco’
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Plum Royale’ PPAF PVR
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) x hybrid Prince
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Purple Petticoats’
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Root Beer’
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Southern Comfort’ PPAF PVR
  • Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Sugar Plum’ PPAF PVR
  • Hibiscus ‘Jazzberry Jam’ PPAF CPBRAF
  • Hosta ‘Blueberry Muffin’
  • Hosta ‘Fire Island’
  • Hosta ‘First Frost’ (Hosta of the Year 2010)
  • Hosta ‘Lakeside Cupcake’
  • Hosta ‘Maui Buttercups’
  • Hosta ‘Niagara Falls’
  • Hosta ‘Praying Hands’ (Hosta of the Year 2011)
  • Iris x germanica ‘Avalon Sunset’
  • Iris x germanica ‘Magical Encounter’
  • Iris x germanica ‘Megabucks’
  • Iris x germanica  ‘Rosalie Figge’
  • Iris x germanica  ‘Stairway to Heaven’
  • Iris x germanica ‘Summer Olympics’
  • Knautia macedonica ‘Thunder & Lightning’ PP21,437
  • Lavandula Angustifolia ‘Ellagance Ice’
  • Lavandula Angustifolia ‘Ellagance Purple’
  • Lavandula Angustifolia ‘Ellagance Sky’
  • Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy) superbum ‘Amelia’
  • Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy) superbum ‘Banana Cream’ PPAF
  • Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy) superbum ‘Brightside’
  • Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy) superbum ‘Razzle Dazzle’
  • Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy) superbum ‘Switzerland’
  • Lilium Asiatic ‘Tiny Bell’®
  • Lilium Asiatic ‘Tiny Padhye’®
  • Lilium Asiatic ‘Tiny Skyline’®
  • Lobelia cardinalis ‘Fried green Tomatoes’PPAF
  • Melttis melissophylum ‘Royal Velvet Distinction’ PP13,233
  • Nepeta subsessilis ‘Cool Cat’
  • Oenothera (Evening Primrose) kunthiana ‘Glowing Magenta’
  • Paeonia Lactiflora ‘Suzette’
  • Paeonia Lactiflora ‘L’Eclatante’
  • Paeonia Lactiflora ‘Edulis Superba’
  • Paeonia Lactiflora’ Louis Van Houtte’
  • Papaver orientale ‘Marlene’
  • Penstemon ‘Blue Riding Hood’
  • Penstemon ‘Hot Pink Riding Hood’
  • Penstemon ‘Purple Riding Hood’
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘Coral Flame’R
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘Lilac Flame’R
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘White Eye Flame’R
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘Mystique Black’
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘Swizzle’
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘Junior Dance’R PP16,059
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘Junior Dream’ PP16,104
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘Pixie Miracle Grace’ PPAF
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘Pixie Twinkle’ PPAF
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘Shockwave’
  • Phlox (paniculata) ‘Thai Pink Jade’ PPAF
  • Polemonium (Jacob’s Ladder) ‘Sonia’s Bluebell’
  • Polemonium (Jacob’s Ladder) reptans ‘Touch of Class’ PP19768’
  • Rodgersia ‘Fireworks’
  • Rudbeckia Hirta ’Becky cinnamon Bicolor’
  • Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Early Bird Gold’ PP20,286
  • Salvia pratensis ‘Madeline’ PP20456
  • Salvia nemorosa ‘Wesuwe’
  • Sedum (Stonecrop) spectabile ‘Autumn Charm’ PP#14421
  • Sedum hakonense ‘Chocolate Ball’
  • Sedum (Stonecrop) x hybrid ‘Mr. Goodbud’ PP17671’
  • Sedum ‘Thundercloud’ PPAF
  • Sedum (Stonecrop x hybrid ‘Xenox’ pp16888
  • Stachys officinalis ‘Pink Cotton Candy’ PPAF
  • Tradescantia (Spiderwort) ‘Sunshine Charm’ USPPP
  • Veronica ‘Tickled Pink’
  • Veronica Longifolia ‘First Love’
  • Vinca (Periwinkle, Myrtle) m. ‘Double Bowles’

New Perennial Grasses 2010 – 2011

  • Panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Fire’ PP19,367
  • Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Burgandy Bunny’ PPAF
  • Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Piglet’ PP19,074

New Perennial Native 2010 - 2011

  • Gentiana andrewsii (Bottle Gentian)
  • Stylophorum diphyllum (Celandine Poppy)