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No-Fail Perennials For Season-Long Color

As someone who loves being outdoors, I know firsthand how our oppressive summer heat can make gardening a real challenge. While I may have to adjust my schedule to avoid the worst of the sun, my plants don’t have that luxury. They’re stuck wherever they are, forced to either adapt or wither away.

Year after year, I’d head to the nursery in search of recommendations for plants that could provide vibrant color throughout the scorching summer months. But more often than not, those suggestions would fall flat. I’d end up wasting money on finicky annuals that couldn’t handle the heat. It was a never-ending cycle of trial and error.

That is, until I had a conversation with my friend Morgan, a seasoned landscaper in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He shared a simple secret: color doesn’t have to come from flowers. In fact, some of the toughest, most reliable plants for summer color are all about the foliage.

Armed with Morgan’s insights, I set out to uncover a list of true no-fail perennials that would give my garden season-long color and minimal fuss. Let me tell you, the results have been nothing short of game-changing.

Foliage Plants for Year-Round Color

Purple Fountain Grass

One of Morgan’s go-to plants for adding vibrant color to commercial landscapes is purple fountain grass. This striking perennial grass starts out green in the spring, slowly transitioning to a deep burgundy as the season progresses. Its graceful, arching flower spikes only add to the visual appeal.

What I love most about purple fountain grass is its versatility. It works beautifully as a specimen plant, in mass plantings, or even in containers. And the best part? It’s a cinch to grow, thriving on neglect and requiring minimal water once established.

Sweet Potato Vine

Another foliage powerhouse that Morgan swears by is sweet potato vine. This cousin of the edible sweet potato comes in a rainbow of colors, from deep purples to the brightest chartreuse. And the way it grows, tumbling over walls or spilling from containers, creates the kind of “60 MPH color” that’s impossible to miss.

What I love about sweet potato vine is how incredibly easy it is to propagate. Just snip off a piece, stick it in water, and watch it root. It’s the perfect plant for filling in gaps or creating instant impact. Plus, the vines wilt when they need water, so you’ll always know when it’s time to give them a drink.


If you’re looking for a plant that thrives on heat and comes in every color imaginable, look no further than coleus. Thanks to the work of plant breeders, this old-fashioned favorite has been reimagined with an endless array of vibrant foliage combinations.

Coleus is one of those rare plants that actually seem to get bigger and more beautiful as the temperature rises. And the best part? They’re incredibly hard to kill. Even if you forget to water them, a little trim and a good drink will have them bouncing back in no time.

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’

When it comes to creating a lush, cohesive look in the garden, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ is an unsung hero. This woody perennial features striking silver-gray foliage that perfectly complements a wide range of hues, from the pinks of antique roses to the fiery shades of zinnias.

But Artemisia isn’t just a pretty face. It thrives in full sun and well-draining soil, making it an ideal low-maintenance choice. And the best part? Its strong, distinctive scent is a natural lice and mite repellent, making it a great companion for chickens.


While we typically think of caladiums as shade-loving plants, there’s a whole new generation of varieties that can handle full sun. These bright and beautiful foliage plants add a tropical flair to any landscape, with leaves in vibrant shades of red, pink, and white.

What I love about caladiums is their durability. In the warmer parts of the country, these bulbs can survive and thrive for years with little more than normal rainfall. And for those of us in colder climates, they’re easy to dig up and store over the winter, ensuring you can enjoy their stunning foliage season after season.

Tough, Flowering Perennials

Salvia greggii

When it comes to flowering perennials that can handle the Texas heat, Salvia greggii is one of my absolute favorites. This hardy, woody bush is covered in muted green leaves, but the little flowers in shades of red, white, and pink are the real showstoppers.

What I love most about Salvia greggii is its near-constant blooming, from spring all the way through the first frost. And the hummingbirds seem to love it just as much as I do, flitting from flower to flower. Plus, it’s a well-behaved plant, staying nicely contained without becoming invasive.

Salvia leucantha

If you’re looking for a plant that will stop passersby in their tracks, Salvia leucantha, or Mexican bush sage, is the one. This stunner can grow into massive, five-foot-tall mounds covered in the most incredible purple-blue flower spikes.

What I love about Salvia leucantha is its irresistible soft, fuzzy texture. It’s one of those plants that simply begs to be touched as you stroll by. And like its cousin Salvia greggii, it’s a hummingbird magnet, attracting these feathered friends from spring through fall.

Hymenoxys (Four-Nerve Daisy)

When it comes to tough-as-nails, low-water perennials, Hymenoxys, or four-nerve daisy, is hard to beat. This hardy member of the aster family produces cheerful yellow daisy-like flowers from spring through the hottest parts of summer, making it a perfect choice for those dry, neglected spots in the landscape.

What I love about four-nerve daisy is its ability to thrive on virtually no water. In fact, it’s often used in cactus gardens and other Xeriscape plantings throughout the Southwest. And when massed together, the bright yellow blooms create a stunning carpet of color.


If you’re looking for a close cousin to the four-nerve daisy that offers similar tough-as-nails performance, zexmenia is the way to go. This perennial also produces bright yellow daisy-like flowers, but with a slightly larger bloom size.

What I love about zexmenia is its versatility. It thrives in both sunny and partially shaded areas, making it a great choice for filling in problem spots in the landscape. And like the four-nerve daisy, it requires minimal water once established, making it a low-maintenance powerhouse.

Blackfoot Daisy

If you’re in search of a truly no-fail perennial that can handle the heat and neglect, look no further than blackfoot daisy. This low-growing, mounding plant is covered in small white flowers with sunny yellow centers, creating a lovely carpet of color.

What I love about blackfoot daisy is its ability to thrive in the harshest of conditions. It will happily grow between rocks, in poor soil, and with little to no supplemental water. And while it may look a bit scraggly in its nursery pot, don’t let that fool you – this tough-as-nails perennial will quickly transform into a lush, flowering groundcover.

As the summers in our region seem to get hotter and drier with each passing year, it’s clear that the days of relying on thirsty annuals and high-maintenance perennials are quickly coming to an end. But that doesn’t mean we have to settle for a lackluster landscape. By incorporating these no-fail, Texas-tough plants into our gardens, we can enjoy vibrant, season-long color with minimal effort and water usage.

So why not ditch the finicky petunias and snapdragons and give these hardy, low-maintenance perennials a try? Your wallet and your green thumb will thank you. And who knows – you might just discover your new favorite plant in the process. Happy gardening, friends! Don’t forget to visit Today’s Gardens for all your landscaping and design needs.

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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