23 Perennial Plants For Gardeners on a Budget

Are you looking to start a perennial garden, but want to stay within a certain budget? There are many different perennial plants that you can grow, without breaking the bank. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen lists out her favorite budget-friendly perennials, with names and pictures of each!

budget friendly perennials

If you want to try perennials in your garden, but want to stay on a budget, there are plenty of budget-friendly perennial plants that will re-bloom year after year. Whether you have full sun or partial shade, warmer of cooler climate, or just getting started with gardening, we have some suggestions for attractive low-budget perennials.

It can be a thrill to plan a dream garden with exotic varieties of plants, until you calculate the cost. Unless you have a generous neighbor who divides their perennials every year and gives you free plants, you will likely need to buy some plants or seeds to get your perennial garden started.

But the good news is that once your perennials are established, they should grow back each year. As they grow, you will be able to divide them for your own use, or share! Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in and take a look at our favorite perennials for gardeners on a budget!

Aster, var “New England”

Aster novae-angliae
New England Aster blooms in autumn with magnificent daisy-shaped flowers.
Scientific Name: Aster novae-angliae
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 2-4 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-8

There are many varieties of New England Aster available, and I would recommend any of them for budget gardening, especially if you can find seeds.

Sometimes nurseries, especially those dealing with native wildflowers, have young plants available for sale. They are also easy to divide and transplant if you know someone who happens to have an Aster patch in their garden! 

Asters burst into bloom in the fall as many summer-blooming plants start to fade. Aster flowers come in an array of whites, pinks, and purples and attract butterflies and other pollinators.  Plants will spread, so buy one and give it plenty of space to fill in.

Astilbe

Astilbe
Astilbe grows well in moist soils and in partial shade, it is also quite resistant to diseases and pests.
Scientific Name: Astilbe spp.
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Asia, North America
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to shade
  • Plant Size: 12”-24” tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-8

Astilbe is a showy, low-maintenance perennial. There are several cultivars available, with beautiful, fluffy-looking spikes of pink flowers. The foliage is also attractive throughout the growing season.

Astilbe prefers rich, moist soils and partial shade. It will gradually grow into clusters that can be divided in late fall. You can then spread them around in your own garden, or pass along extras to friends and neighbors.

They tend to be fairly disease-resistant and do not seem to be bothered by deer and rabbits. They do, however, attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta
Black-eyed Susan blooms from summer to autumn with bright yellow flowers with a contrasting black center.
Scientific Name: Rudbeckia hirta
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: United States
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-9

Black-eyed Susans are a classic yellow summertime flower. They bloom summer through fall and can be grown as annuals or perennials, depending upon local climate conditions. They are native to the central and eastern United States and are well adapted to thrive with little maintenance.

These plants grow easily from seed, which can be collected from spent flower heads, or purchased. They may not bloom their first year, but be patient, you will be rewarded with a burst of cheery yellow flowers in the second year.

Deer and rabbits will nibble on young plants, but a healthy vigorous plant will typically continue to grow and still reach full bloom. The flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators, and also make nice cut flowers.

Bugleweed

Ajuga reptans
Bugleweed is a fairly budget-friendly groundcover that produces blue flower spikes in the spring.
Scientific Name: Ajuga reptans
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe, Northern Africa, Southwestern Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Plant Size: 6”-9” tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-10

Bugleweed is a great plant for budget gardening. It’s a hardy groundcover that spreads fairly quickly without ever feeling invasive or difficult to control. Deer and rabbits don’t seem to bother bugleweed either.

The blue flower spikes appear in spring, and the foliage is unassuming yet attractive for the entire growing season. Some varieties have greener foliage, other varieties have purple-tinged leaves. Bugleweed makes a great plant for low borders or filling in odd spaces.

Chives

Allium schoenoprasum
Chives produces thin, green, tubular leaves and beautiful purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Allium schoenoprasum
  • Plant Type: Bulb
  • Geographic Origin: Europe and Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Plant Size: 12”-18” tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-8

Chives are a fragrant herb, commonly used in cooking, but they also have a place in the budget gardener’s perennial bed. They have thin, green, tubular leaves and showy purple flowers, which bloom in the spring.

Chives are fairly hardy and low maintenance. They are deer resistant, and while rabbits may take a few bites of the leaves, they don’t seem to be a favorite and the plant should not suffer serious damage.

Chives grow easily from seed, which is easily purchased. They also grow into dense clumps, which can be divided if necessary. Chives grow well in containers, provided they are planted in well-drained soil and receive adequate sunlight.

Chrysanthemum var “Sheffield Pink”

Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum var “Sheffield Pink” blooms from September until frost with magnificent light pink flowers.
Scientific Name: Chrysanthemum var. Sheffield Pink
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 18”-24” tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 5-9

While there are wide varieties of Chrysanthemum, the “Sheffield Pink” variety is my personal favorite. It blooms from September through frost, with showy flowers in hues of pink and pinkish-salmon. Other Chrysanthemums come in a wide variety of colors, and most are fall-blooming.

Chrysanthemums are low-maintenance and easy to grow. They are best grown in full sun with fertile soil and medium moisture levels. They are deer and rabbit resistant.

Chrysanthemums are readily available from nurseries. If you are a budget gardener, you may only need to buy a few plants to get started, and these easy-care beauties will come back year after year.

Columbine

Aquilegia canadensis
Columbine is an easy-to-grow plant that produces unique beautiful flowers.
Scientific Name: Aquilegia canadensis
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-8

Columbines are one of my favorite plants. Not only are they native wildflowers, they are easy to grow and have uniquely beautiful flowers. Plants are low-maintenance and tolerate a range of water, light, and soil conditions. Plants are fairly tolerant to deer and rabbits.

They grow easily from seed and are also easy to dig and transplant if you have a neighbor with extra plants. Flowers bloom in spring. Native Columbine flowers are red, but there are now many cultivars with purple and even yellow flowers. Leaves grow in attractive clumps from early spring through summer, but in full sun may wither after blooming.

Coral Bells

Heuchera americana
Coral Bells prefer to grow in moist soils and in a semi-shady garden.
Scientific Name: Heuchera americana
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-9

These unassuming plants are wonderful additions to a shade garden. They grow best in rich moist soils and partial shade. Coral Bells have low-growing clusters of leaves with delicate spikes of white to pinkish flowers blooming in mid to late summer. In warmer climates, the leaves may stay green year round.

Coral Bells make an attractive ground cover or edging plant. They are tolerant of deer and rabbits but may be nibbled on occasion. They are low-maintenance plants that spread over time and are easily divided by digging up extra plants. Plants can also be grown from seed, but dividing from existing plants is much easier!

Dianthus “Firewitch”

Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’
Dianthus “Firewitch” produce showy bright pink flowers with attractive silvery foliage.
Scientific Name: Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe, Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 6”-12” tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-8

Dianthus have both very showy flowers and attractive silvery green foliage. The bright pink flowers bloom in spring to early summer. These are low-growing plants that make a stunning display along borders and edges.

Dianthus are low-maintenance and easy to grow and can be found at many nurseries. They are resistant to deer and rabbits.

Hosta

Hosta
Hosta blooms in summer with purple flower stalks that attract hummingbirds.
Scientific Name: Hosta spp.
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Shade to part shade
  • Plant Size: 12”-18” tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-8

Hostas come in several varieties and are known for their clusters of showy leaves. They bloom in summer with tall purple flower spikes that attract hummingbirds. Unfortunately, they are also a favorite of deer, so if you live in a place where deer have access to your garden, you may want to consider planting something else.

While buying an individual Hosta plant may seem a little pricey, they will reward you with an attractive low-maintenance plant that thrives in the shade garden. Hostas also multiply, so after a few years, you will be able to divide your hosta clumps and spread them around.

Lambs’ Ear

Stachys byzantina
Lambs’ Ear blooms from late spring to mid-summer with small light purple spikes.
Scientific Name: Stachys byzantina
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe, Middle East
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 8”-18” tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-8

Fuzzy Lambs’ Ear leaves make a great display along a border or edging where you need something low. Lambs’ Ear flowers emerge in late spring through mid-summer as small light-purple spikes, but the main attraction is the silvery green (very fuzzy!) leaves.

These plants are tolerant of less-than-ideal growing conditions, and also resist deer and rabbits. Lambs’ Ear spreads quickly but is easy to control and divide. Plants are commonly available at garden centers and nurseries.

Lanceleaf Coreopsis

Coreopsis lanceolata
This plant is an excellent choice for the budget grower and produces bright yellow flowers.
Scientific Name: Coreopsis lanceolata
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-9

Lanceleaf Coreopsis is native to North America and is an excellent choice for the budget gardener. They grow readily from seed, which can be self-collected or store-bought. There are many other varieties of Coreopsis as well.

These plants are tolerant of a variety of less-than-ideal growing conditions and are typically not bothered by deer or other pests. Coreopsis flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators and make nice cut flowers.

Lantana

Lantana camara
Lantana is a shrub that blooms with bright inflorescences.
Scientific Name: Lantana camara
  • Plant Type: Woody perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Central and South America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 6 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 7-11

Lantanas can grow quite large, and appear more like a shrub than your average perennial. With their large form and abundance of brightly-colored flower clusters, they are quite stunning!  The flowers are a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds.

They can be very vigorous growers and in some frost-free areas, are considered invasive species, so please check any potential restrictions in your area if you live in a frost-free location and want to grow Lantanas.

Lantanas are commonly found in garden centers and you only need one to make a statement. If you know someone with a Lantana plant, you can try asking for a cutting and root a new plant for yourself in a pot of moist seed-starting mix or other light potting soil.

Lenten Rose

Helleborus
Lenten Rose blooms in spring with white and pink flowers.
Scientific Name: Helleborus spp.
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe
  • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
  • Plant Size: 1.5-2 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 6-8

Lenten Rose is an interesting looking plant, large leaves growing from the ground on single stems. Flowers appear in the spring and range from white to pink.

This is an excellent perennial flower for a shade garden. They will slowly spread into larger and larger clumps that are easily divided if desired, and they may spread by self-seeding.

Plants are low-maintenance, hardy, and easy to grow. They are quite resistant to deer and rabbits and tend to be resistant to most other pests and diseases as well.

Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa
Milkweed is an easy-to-grow plant that produces bright orange flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-9

Milkweed is one of my favorite plants. It’s beautiful, it’s easy to grow, it comes back every year, and it’s the host plant for the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar. Plus it seems to be a favorite of other butterflies and pollinators that come to visit the flowers.

While there are other varieties of Milkweed, this one is the most commonly available. It is easily grown from seed, which you can collect yourself or find commercially. Butterfly Milkweed has attractive orange flowers that bloom in the summer months.

By fall, the plant will have elongated pointy green seed pods. When the pods are ripe, they open to reveal a mass of soft, fluffy, white hairs, ready to blow away with seeds attached.

Oregano

Origanum vulgare
Oregano is a fragrant herb that blooms in small clusters to attract butterflies and pollinators.
Scientific Name: Origanum vulgare
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe and Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-10

Oregano is a familiar aromatic kitchen herb. It is very easy to grow from seed in a garden or container. It can also be propagated from cuttings.

Oregano grows into sprawling leafy plants that are attractive in an herb garden, as a companion plant in the vegetable garden, and even in a flower garden. The small flower clusters attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea
Purple Coneflower prefers to grow in full sun and fertile soil.
Scientific Name: Echinacea purpurea
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 2.5-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-8

Native to eastern and central North America, this popular wildflower makes a great addition to the perennial garden. Plants are hearty and easily grown from seed. Purple Coneflowers prefer full sun and fertile soils, but will tolerate a range of soil qualities.

Blooming in the summer, the large pinkish-purple flowers attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. After blooming, goldfinches and other seed-eating birds will come to pick out the seeds. Mature Purple Coneflowers are resistant to deer and rabbits, although herbivores may nibble young plants.

Salvia

Salvia guaranitica
Salvia is an easy-care plant that blooms with dark purple flowers from late summer to autumn.
Scientific Name: Salvia guaranitica “Black and Blue”
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: South America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 2-5 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 7-10

There are several varieties of Salvia available on the market. In full sun, the Black and Blue Salvia can grow to be a rather large, almost shrubby-looking perennial that will spread freely. Clumps can be easily divided and controlled with some vigilance.

Salvia plants are low-maintenance and easy to grow. In warmer climates, they can be grown as a perennial, and in cooler climates, they may not reach full height and can still be grown as an annual. Plants can be propagated by division, by seed, and by cuttings.

Tall spikes of dark purple flowers appear from late summer to fall. Flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators. Salvia is resistant to deer and rabbits and the leaves have a distinctive smell.

Shasta Daisy

Leucanthemum x superbum
Shasta Daisy is a good choice for budget gardeners, with attractive white flowers.
Scientific Name: Leucanthemum x superbum
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: California
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 1-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 4-10

Shasta Daisies are relatively easy to grow from seed and are commonly available at nurseries in the spring, making them a good choice for budget gardeners. Plants are long-lived, prefer full sun, and bloom in mid-summer.

Their attractive white blooms are long-lasting and make excellent cut flowers. Flowers also attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Stonecrop

Sedum rupestre
Stonecrop is a low-growing plant that grows well in full sun and low humidity.
Scientific Name: Sedum rupestre
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 3”-6” tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 5-8

There are many varieties of Sedum available. They are easy to grow and tolerant of average soils, full sun, and low moisture. Plants tend to have thick, juicy leaves that look succulent. Sedums can be easily divided or grown from cuttings.

Stonecrop (Sedum rupestre) is a low-growing plant that makes an excellent ground cover for edges and borders. Flowers appear in summer, but these plants are typically grown for their unique and attractive leaves. They tend to be deer and rabbit resistant.

Thyme

Thymus vulgaris
Thyme is a ground cover plant that is widely used in cooking as a condiment.
Scientific Name: Thymus vulgaris
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Southern Europe and Northern Africa
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 6”-12” tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 5-8

Thyme is a well-known culinary herb and also makes an attractive ground cover in the garden. It is easily grown from seed or by cuttings. Thyme is fairly low maintenance and can be grown in an herb garden, rock garden, in containers, and along borders.

Flowers are small and appear in late spring to early summer. Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators are attracted to the flowers. Leaves are very aromatic and resistant to deer and rabbits.

Water Iris

Iris laevigata
Water Iris is one of the hardest and most resilient plants that will make a great addition to your garden.
Scientific Name: Iris laevigata
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial, Rhizome
  • Geographic Origin: Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Sun to part sun
  • Plant Size: 18”-24” tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-9

There are a wide variety of different Iris variations, and all make beautiful additions to the garden. I specifically recommend the Water Iris here, because despite some less-than-ideal growing conditions, these have been one of the hardiest and most tolerant plants in my garden.

Because they slowly spread, they are a plant that’s easy to divide and share. You just need one plant, give it a few years, and you will have your own satisfying patch of beautiful purple spring blooms.

Iris prefer full-sun and rich soils. They are low-maintenance and don’t tend to suffer from pests and diseases. They are also deer and rabbit-resistant.

Yarrow

Achillea millefolium
Yarrow blooms in summer with small flowers of white, yellow, or pink.
Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe, Asia, North America
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet tall
  • USDA Plant Zone: 3-9

Yarrow is a plant commonly found in flower gardens, fields, and roadsides. It is easy to grow, tolerant of a variety of less-than-ideal conditions, and very low maintenance.

Yarrow spreads readily and can be propagated by dividing rhizomes and from seed. Some maintenance may be required to keep these plants contained within a certain area.

There are several varieties of Yarrow with flowers in shades of white, yellow, and pink. Flowers bloom in summer and attract butterflies and other pollinators. Leaves are feathery and add diversity in pattern and texture to the flower garden. Plants tend to be deer and rabbit-resistant.

Final Thoughts

The resourceful gardener can find many creative ways to garden on a budget. Here are some low cost ways to stretch out your gardening budget this season.

  • Grow from seed, cuttings, and divisions.
  • Ask a fellow gardener for extra plants.
  • Share extra plants with others.
  • Patience – a single plant will usually multiply.
  • Choose plants most likely to grow in your yard.

By following these steps, and sticking with a few of the perennials we’ve talked about here, you can keep costs down and have beautiful perennials that will come back every season!

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