Best Perennials for Iowa: Top Picks for Your Garden

Welcome to our guide on the best perennials for Iowa gardens! When it comes to creating a beautiful and sustainable outdoor space in Iowa, choosing the right plants is crucial. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of top picks for perennial flowers that can thrive in the Zone 5 climate of Iowa. From hardy and low maintenance to native and pollinator-friendly, we’ve got you covered.

So why are perennials the best choice for Iowa gardens? Unlike annuals that need to be replanted every year, perennials come back year after year, making them a cost-effective and sustainable choice. These plants are also great at adapting to the Iowa climate, flourishing in the summer heat and withstanding the winter cold.

Let’s dive in and explore some of the best perennials for Iowa gardens!

Understanding the Iowa Climate and Zone 5 Requirements

When selecting perennials for your Iowa garden, it’s essential to consider the unique characteristics of the Iowa climate and Zone 5 requirements. The Iowa climate is categorized as humid continental, with hot summers and cold winters. The growing season typically lasts from May to September, with an average annual temperature of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to the climate, it’s also crucial to consider the USDA Hardiness Zone, which is 5 for Iowa. This means that plants must be able to withstand the harsh winter conditions, including temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gardeners must consider various factors when choosing perennials, including frost dates, rainfall, and soil conditions. It’s essential to select plants that can thrive in the Iowa climate and meet Zone 5 requirements to ensure the longevity of the plants in your garden.

Native Perennials for Iowa Gardens

Using native plants in your Iowa garden can provide numerous benefits, including adaptability, resilience, and support for local ecosystems. Here are some of the best native perennial options for your Iowa garden:

Plant Characteristics
Purple Coneflower Produces stunning pink/purple flowers that bloom mid-summer to fall. Attracts butterflies, bees, and birds. Perennial and low maintenance.
Prairie Dropseed A warm-season grass that grows in dense clumps, from 12 to 18 inches tall. Provides excellent ground cover, and has delicate, arching foliage. Drought tolerant and low maintenance.
Butterfly Milkweed Produces bright orange flowers that attract butterflies and bees. This native perennial grows up to 2 feet tall and is deer resistant. Drought tolerant and low maintenance.

By incorporating these native perennials into your garden, you can enjoy their natural beauty while creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly outdoor space.

Hardy Perennials for Iowa’s Challenging Weather

The unpredictable weather patterns in Iowa can make it challenging to grow certain plants. However, there are many hardy perennials that can thrive in this region. These tough plants can tolerate extreme temperatures, harsh winds, and drought conditions, making them perfect for Iowa gardens.

Russian Sage: This drought-tolerant perennial features silvery-gray foliage and spiky lavender-blue flowers that bloom from midsummer to fall. It’s a low-maintenance plant that requires full sun and well-drained soil.

Plant Name Light Requirements Soil Requirements
Sedum Full Sun to Part Shade Well-Drained
Daylilies Full Sun to Part Shade Well-Drained

Sedum: This succulent plant has thick leaves that retain water, making it highly drought-tolerant. It’s available in a range of foliage colors and can produce bright pink or yellow flowers in the fall. Sedum prefers well-drained soil and full sun to part shade.

Daylilies: These tough perennials can thrive in almost any soil type and require little maintenance. They produce bright, showy blooms in a range of colors and can tolerate full sun to part shade.

More Hardy Perennials for Iowa Gardens

  • Black-eyed Susans: These cheerful yellow flowers attract pollinators and can tolerate hot and dry conditions.
  • Coreopsis: This low-maintenance plant produces masses of yellow or pink flowers from midsummer to fall.
  • Blanket Flower: This drought-tolerant plant produces vibrant red and yellow flowers that bloom from early to late summer.

These hardy perennials are just a few options that can thrive in Iowa’s challenging weather conditions. By choosing plants that can withstand the extremes of this climate, you can create a beautiful and sustainable garden that lasts for years to come.

Low Maintenance Perennials for Busy Gardeners

For gardeners with busy schedules, low maintenance perennials are a great option for adding color and beauty to your Iowa garden without requiring too much upkeep. These easy-care plants will not only save you time and effort, but also thrive in the Iowa climate. Here are some of our top picks:

Plant Description
Black-eyed Susans These cheerful yellow flowers bloom from mid-summer through fall with minimal water and care. They attract pollinators and also make great cut flowers for indoor arrangements.
Hostas These shade-loving plants come in a variety of colors and sizes and require little maintenance beyond regular watering. They also provide excellent ground cover and add a lush look to your garden.
Yarrow These hardy perennials come in a range of colors and require little water or fertilizer to thrive. They are also great for attracting butterflies and other pollinators to your garden.

When planting low maintenance perennials, be sure to choose a location that suits the plant’s specific light and soil requirements. Also, consider planting them in groups or clusters to create a cohesive and impactful look in your garden.

Remember: just because a plant is low maintenance doesn’t mean it’s no maintenance! While these plants do require less care than other perennials, they still benefit from regular watering and occasional pruning to ensure optimal growth and beauty.

Best Perennial Flowers for Iowa Gardens

Perennial flowers are a beautiful addition to any garden and can provide color and interest year after year. Here are some of the best perennial flowers for Iowa gardens:

Plant Description Best Growing Conditions
Peonies Large, fragrant blooms in shades of pink, white, and red. Full sun to partial shade, well-draining soil.
Coneflowers Daisy-like flowers in shades of pink, purple, and orange. Full sun, well-draining soil.
Phlox Clusters of fragrant flowers in shades of pink, white, and lavender. Full sun to partial shade, moist, well-draining soil.

Other popular options include black-eyed Susans, daylilies, and salvia. When selecting perennial flowers for your Iowa garden, consider the colors and textures that will complement your existing plants and landscape.

Remember to choose plants that are suited to the Iowa climate and Zone 5 requirements. By selecting the right perennials, you can create a beautiful and sustainable garden that brings joy year after year.

Perennials That Attract Pollinators

Supporting pollinators is essential for the health and sustainability of Iowa’s ecosystems. By planting perennials that attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, you can help ensure the survival of these vital species.

Here are some of the best pollinator-friendly perennials for Iowa gardens:

Plant Benefits
Bee balm Produces nectar and pollen that attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Asters Blooms in late summer and fall, providing food for migrating butterflies and other pollinators.
Milkweed Essential host plant for monarch butterflies, providing nectar for other pollinators as well.

When planting pollinator-friendly perennials, consider grouping them together in clusters to provide a concentrated source of food for bees and butterflies. Additionally, avoid using pesticides and herbicides that can harm pollinators.

By incorporating these perennials into your garden, you can create a beautiful and sustainable outdoor space that supports the local ecosystem.

Tips for Planting and Caring for Perennials in Iowa.

Planting and caring for perennials in Iowa can be challenging, but with the right techniques, you can ensure healthy growth and beautiful blooms. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Soil Preparation

Before planting perennials, it’s important to prepare the soil. In Iowa, the soil is often heavy and clay-like, which can cause drainage problems. To improve soil drainage, add organic matter like compost or manure to the soil. This will help break up the clay and improve the soil structure.

Watering Techniques

When it comes to watering perennials, consistency is key. Water deeply once a week rather than shallowly and frequently. This encourages the plants to develop deep roots that are better able to withstand periods of drought. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot and other problems.

Pest and Disease Control

Perennials in Iowa are vulnerable to pests like Japanese beetles and diseases like powdery mildew. To prevent these problems, make sure to keep your garden clean and free of debris. If you notice signs of pests or diseases, use organic methods like neem oil or insecticidal soap to control the problem.

Dividing and Deadheading

Dividing perennials is important to keep them healthy and vibrant. Every three to four years, dig up the plants and divide the clumps into smaller sections. This will help to rejuvenate the plant and encourage new growth. Deadheading spent flowers is also important to encourage continuous blooming.

By following these tips, you can enjoy a beautiful and healthy garden of perennials in Iowa. Whether you choose low maintenance plants or pollinator-friendly options, these techniques will help you create a thriving and sustainable outdoor space.

Conclusion: Creating a Beautiful and Sustainable Iowa Garden

Now that you have a better understanding of the Iowa climate and the best perennials for your garden, it’s time to start planting! Remember to choose hardy, low maintenance plants that can thrive in Zone 5 and support local ecosystems.

By incorporating native perennials like prairie dropseed and butterfly milkweed, you can create a sustainable garden that is both beautiful and beneficial for Iowa’s wildlife. Hardy perennials like sedum and daylilies are perfect for the challenging weather conditions in Iowa, while low maintenance plants like black-eyed Susans and hostas are great for busy gardeners.

Don’t forget to include colorful perennials like peonies and phlox, which can add vibrancy and charm to your garden. And if you want to help support pollinators, be sure to plant perennials like bee balm and milkweed that attract bees, butterflies, and other important pollinators.

Follow our tips for planting and caring for perennials in Iowa, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a sustainable and beautiful garden that thrives in the Iowa climate. With the right perennials, your garden can be a haven for wildlife and a source of beauty for years to come.


Q: What are the best perennials for Iowa?

A: Some of the best perennials for Iowa gardens include prairie dropseed, purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, Russian sage, sedum, daylilies, black-eyed Susans, hostas, yarrow, peonies, coneflowers, phlox, bee balm, asters, and milkweed.

Q: What are the Zone 5 requirements for perennials in Iowa?

A: Perennials in Iowa need to be able to withstand the characteristics of the Iowa climate, including average temperatures and frost dates. Zone 5 requirements are crucial when selecting perennials for this region.

Q: Why should I consider native perennials for my Iowa garden?

A: Native perennials are well-adapted to the Iowa climate and offer resilience and adaptability. Some of the best native perennials for Iowa gardens include prairie dropseed, purple coneflower, and butterfly milkweed.

Q: What are some hardy perennials that can withstand Iowa’s challenging weather?

A: Russian sage, sedum, and daylilies are excellent choices for Iowa gardens as they can endure the challenging weather conditions in the region.

Q: What are some low maintenance perennials for busy gardeners in Iowa?

A: Black-eyed Susans, hostas, and yarrow are low maintenance perennials that are perfect for busy gardeners in Iowa. They require minimal care but still provide beautiful blooms.

Q: Which perennial flowers are best suited for Iowa gardens?

A: Peonies, coneflowers, and phlox are beautiful perennial flowers that thrive in Iowa gardens. They offer vibrant blooms and require specific growing conditions.

Q: Are there perennials that attract pollinators in Iowa?

A: Yes, there are several perennials that attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators in Iowa, such as bee balm, asters, and milkweed. These plants contribute to supporting local ecosystems.

Q: What are some tips for planting and caring for perennials in Iowa?

A: To successfully plant and care for perennials in Iowa, it’s essential to prepare the soil, use proper watering techniques, and be aware of common pests and diseases. Following these tips will ensure the longevity and growth of your plants.

Q: How can I create a beautiful and sustainable Iowa garden?

A: By choosing the best perennials for your Iowa garden, considering native plants, and implementing sustainable practices such as water conservation and using organic fertilizers, you can create a beautiful and sustainable outdoor space in Iowa.