17 Perfect Perennial Plants for Utah Garden Spaces

Utah is a beautiful state with several diverse microclimates. This can make choosing the perfect perennial plants a bit of a challenge, given the climate variables. In this article, we take a look at our favorite perennial plants that are perfect for Utah gardens, regardless of where you reside in the state.

utah perennials

Perennials are perfect for any gardener who doesn’t want to re-plant every spring. Utah’s drier climate makes choosing the right plants difficult. There are many different microclimates within Utah’s diverse topography. But, there are many different perennial plants that can grow quite well all across the state.

Whether you are looking to add some perennial flowers to your garden, or some ornamental grasses, there are plenty of different options for Utah gardeners.

So, if you’ve decided you want to add some perennial plants to your Utah garden but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve landed in the right place. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of our favorite perennials for residents of the Beehive state. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in!

Ashy Cranesbill

Geranium cinereum
Ashy Cranesbill produces violet-purple flowers that bloom in spring and autumn.
Scientific Name: Geranium cinereum
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Subtropical southern Africa
  • Plant Size: 6”
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 5-9

The Ashy Cranesbill is also called the ballerina cranesbill. It is a purple and magenta flower that is easy to grow and resistant to rabbits and deer.

It does well in full sunlight and needs very little water, making it the perfect garden plant for Utah’s arid climate. Ashy Cranesbills are also known for thriving in rocky or gravelly gardens.

Ashy Cranesbills flower twice, once in the spring and once in the fall. The flowers attract butterflies while adding a beautiful purple bloom to your garden. These flowers need well-drained soil, so make sure to lay gravel below your soil if you’re putting them in a raised bed.

Ashy Cranesbills are suitable for beds, borders, edges, ground cover, and containers, so don’t hesitate to place them anywhere you want to add a reliable, beautiful bloom in spring and fall.

Black-Eyed Susans

Rudbeckia hirta
Black-Eyed Susans is a drought tolerant plant that blooms bright yellow flowers with a black center.
Scientific Name: Rudbeckia hirta
  • Plant Type: Annual & Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Central United States
  • Plant Size: 2’-3’
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

Black-eyed Susans are traditionally thought of as bright yellow flowers with black centers but come in various colors. Rudbeckia hirta can be found blooming in deep reds (such as the cherry brandy variety) to golden oranges (such as the goldilocks variety).

Black-eyed Susans are wildflowers native to the United States and do well across the country. These perennials are drought-resistant and low-maintenance, making them the perfect low-effort perennials for arid climates.

While black-eyed Susans are perennials, they usually only survive two seasons before needing to be re-planted, so they aren’t as long-lasting as other perennial options.

They attract many pollinators, such as birds and butterflies, but are deer resistant and won’t likely be eaten by wild animals.

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemum spp
Chrysanthemums were widely used in medicine.
Scientific Name: Chrysanthemum spp.
  • Plant Type: Annual & Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: China
  • Plant Size: 16”-24”
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 5-9

There are wide varieties of Chrysanthemums, but most are hardy and make excellent additions to any garden. Chrysanthemums, or mums, come in various colors ranging from yellows to pinks to reds.

Chrysanthemums grow best in well-drained soil and are ideal for beds and borders in gardens. To use them as perennial plants, ensure they are in the ground early.

Chrysanthemums flower in the fall and are often sold during that time- but they won’t survive the winter if you don’t get them in the ground in the spring as part of your Utah perennials.

Colorado Four O’Clocks

Mirabilis Multiflora
‘Colorado Four O’Clocks’ blooms with incredibly beautiful bright purple flowers from April to mid-September.
Scientific Name: Mirabilis Multiflora
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Southwestern United States
  • Plant Size: 1’-2’
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to light shade
  • Plant Zone: 4-8

Colorado Four O’Clocks, also called Desert Four O’Clocks, make excellent additions to gardens across the western United States. They have an incredibly long bloom period that lasts from April to mid-September, so these flowers will add bright purple to your garden for an extended portion of the year.

Colorado Four O’Clocks do well in poor soil, like gravel or sand, and don’t need much water once established. Combined with the fact that they thrive in high elevations, these factors make them perfect for any Utah garden.

Desert Four O’Clocks do well in beds and well-manicured gardens, as well as more natural areas. Their deep root systems can help stabilize the ground and prevent erosion while providing ground cover and filling gaps in your garden.

Coneflowers

Echinacea spp
Coneflowers bloom from spring to frost with gorgeous purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Echinacea spp.
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Central and Eastern United States
  • Plant Size: 1’-4’
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

Breeders have developed coneflowers in a wide variety of colors and shapes. Some coneflowers, such as the Echinacea hybrid ‘colorburst orange,’ don’t even have the distinctive black cone in the middle.

Coneflowers have a long bloom period and flower from late spring until frost. They attract all kinds of pollinators and are low-maintenance, trouble-free plants.

While most don’t struggle to stand on their own if you’re having trouble you may plant coneflowers with other sturdy-stemmed plants to keep them from flopping over when they get tall.

Daylilies

Hemerocallis spp
Daylilies attract many birds, hummingbirds and butterflies with their charming flowers.
Scientific Name: Hemerocallis spp.
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Eurasia
  • Plant Size: 1’-5’
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

Daylilies are drought and heat tolerant and easy to grow. They don’t have a long bloom period, usually only 1 to 5 weeks, but they’re easy to go and brilliant while in bloom.

Daylilies come in many different colors and patterns, so you will find options to suit your garden no matter what color you’re looking to add.

Daylilies are pest and rabbit resistant while attracting birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds. They make perfect additions to beds, borders, and edges and are well suited to containers and patios.

When choosing where to place them, avoid planting them near trees and shrubs as they will compete for nutrients and water.

Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea
Foxglove is a poisonous but lovely flower that will make a wonderful addition to your garden as a centerpiece.
Scientific Name: Digitalis purpurea
  • Plant Type: Short-lived perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Temperate Europe
  • Plant Size: 3’-4’
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to full sun
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Common Foxglove has a tall cone of pink flowers when it blooms. This cone of blooms gives foxglove its nickname: Candy Mountain. This distinctive floral arrangement will add a burst of color to your garden from late spring to early summer.

Foxglove is resistant to rabbits and deer because it is poisonous. Use caution if you plant foxglove to keep pets and children away from the flowers. The poison can cause irregular heart rhythm, heart attack, and death if consumed.

When planted safely, foxglove is perfect for large beds as a centerpiece. They are incredibly tall and have several inches of bloom, so they can add tons of color to the difficult-to-fill back of your garden bed.

Hyacinth

Hyacinthus orientalis
Hyacinths are hardy flowers that don’t need frequent watering and thrive in full sun.
Scientific Name: Hyacinthus orientalis
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Mediterranean region and tropical Africa
  • Plant Size: 8”-10”
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

Hyacinths are an excellent way to bring spring color into your garden in Utah’s arid climate. They don’t need much water and do well in full sun, perfect for the dry mountainous region of the United States.

These flowers are deer and rabbit resistant and easy to care for. They need very little care and will bloom every season.

While they are disease- and pest-resistant, bulb rot may occur in poorly-drained soil, so make sure that your soil has good drainage. Most soil in Utah is rocky and well-suited for Hyacinths drainage needs.

Hyacinths come in red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, pink, and white. Their versatility in color means that you can add any color to mix up your garden. Many people in the United States plant the red, white, and blue varieties of Hyacinths for the fourth of July to celebrate national pride.

John Cabot Rose

Rosa ‘John Cabot’
John Cabot Roses bloom bright pink or red flowers throughout the summer.
Scientific Name: Rosa ‘John Cabot’
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Canada
  • Plant Size: up to 8’ as a shrub
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-5

John Cabot roses are an excellent choice if you’re looking to add roses to a Utah garden. They are short climbing roses but can also be grown as shrubs or hedges.

As shrubs, they can reach up to 8 feet tall if not cut back. These flowers will bloom all summer in bright pink or red. They will attract butterflies and other pollinators while in bloom.

The John Cabot was developed as part of the explorer species by a Canadian doctor, Dr. Felicitas. This breed of roses was developed specifically to be hardy enough to survive Canadian winters and high altitudes, making them perfectly suited for Utah’s conditions.

New England Aster

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
New England Aster produces beautiful purple flowers that attract many pollinators to your garden.
Scientific Name: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 3’-6’
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 4-8

New England Aster produces purple flowers from August to October when they usually die during the first frosts. The late bloom period will give your garden color in the later half of the growing season. Once these flowers have become established, they are effortless to care for.

Asters of all varieties can attract pollinators, especially butterflies. New England Aster, in particular, has been known to draw in Monarch Butterflies, which were recently declared endangered.

While they are beneficial to monarchs, New England Aster flowers are also crucial for native wild bees. They provide a great source of nutrients for all pollinators, all while doing well in the difficult soils in mountainous regions.

If you’re looking to help out native wildlife in your Utah garden, New England Asters are a perfect choice.

Nuttall’s Linanthus

Leptosiphon nuttallii
Nuttall’s Linanthus is a drought tolerant plant that produces small white flowers with a sweet fragrance.
Scientific Name: Leptosiphon nuttallii
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 6”-12”
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Nuttall’s Linanthus is not as popular or commonly known as many other garden plants but is easy to grow, beautiful, and reliable nonetheless. Linanthus plants can thrive in poor, rocky soil and are drought resistant, making them an excellent choice for the Utah desert.

Nuttall’s needs very little water and is drought-resistant. It will produce small white flowers and a sweet smell all summer long. Nuttall’s Linanthus rarely has issues with pests or diseases and does well at high elevations.

Oregon Boxwood

Paxistima myrsinites
Oregon Boxwood is an evergreen shrub that thrives in dry, sunny locations.
Scientific Name: Paxistima myrsinites
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 8”-36”
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 5

The Oregon Boxwood is also referred to as the Mountain Lover. This evergreen shrub does well in the western mountains of North America, where it is native. The Oregon Boxwood will do well in rocky and woodland gardens.

This shrub is bushy and not patchy, so it will add an even green to your garden. It does well in dry, sunny locations and does not need much water to thrive. If you want to add year-round greenery to your garden with an easy, long-lived plant, the Oregon Boxwood will do the job.

Pacific Anemone

Anemone multifida
Pacific Anemone produces light pink and purple flowers that do well in full sun.
Scientific Name: Anemone multifida
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 6”-20”
  • Sun Exposure: Partial sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

The Pacific Anemone blooms from late spring to late summer with light pink to magenta colored blooms. Though the flowers will die off before fall, these plants are known for staging green late into the year. These plants are a part of the buttercup family, low-maintenance, and easy to care for.

Hummingbirds use the anemone’s seedheads to build their nests. This, combined with their being native to North America, make Pacific Anemones perfect for wildflower gardens. The Pacific Anemone can do well in many kinds of soil, whether acidic, alkaline, rocky, or poor.

These flowers do best out of the full sun, so they will thrive in a north-facing garden or underneath taller plants. Its shorter stature makes it a good choice for the edges of beds or as border plants.

Rubber Rabbitbrush

Ericameria nauseosa
Rubber Rabbitbrush blooms from late summer to mid-autumn with bright yellow inflorescences.
Scientific Name: Ericameria nauseosa
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Arid regions of North America
  • Plant Size: 3’-9’
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Rubber Rabbitbrush is also referred to as Chamisa or Gray Rabbitbrush. It is a light gray and bright yellow shrub that does well in the most challenging conditions.

It flowers from late summer to mid-fall in large, bright clusters of yellow. After flowering, Rubber Rabbitbrush maintains interest by hosting large, textured seeds through the winter.

The plant is ideal for desert landscaping and the Utah climate. It will slow erosion with its extensive roots and works well as a hedge. It is pest and disease free and is easy to grow. The only maintenance that it needs is to be cut back in the early spring.

Native Americans used Rubber Rabbitbrush for many things, such as making dyes, gum, and tea. It is an important plant for many native species, as its leaf litter can replenish nutrients in poor soil.

Smooth Sumac

Rhus glabra
Smooth Sumac is a deciduous shrub that will decorate your garden with its foliage in any season.
Scientific Name: Rhus glabra
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 9’-15’
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

The Smooth Sumac can get as tall as 15 feet if not trimmed back, giving it the appearance of a small tree rather than the shrub that it is.

It is a deciduous shrub that turns a brilliant shade of orange in the early fall, slowly turning redder as the season progresses. In spring and summer, it is a deep green leafy plant that will add depth and greenery to your garden.

The Smooth Sumac is easy to grow and drought resistant. It thrives in almost any soil as long as it has good drainage. Its root system makes it good for slopes or moving dirt as it can help prevent erosion in these areas.

The female Smooth Sumac will produce small yellow flowers followed by large bundles of red berries. The flowers are beneficial to honey bees, and the shrub as a whole is an essential habitat for native bees.

The hardiness of this plant makes it a great addition to any garden with challenging growing conditions.

Utah Agave

Agave utahensis
Utah Agave is a succulent that has blue fleshy leaves.
Scientific Name: Agave utahensis
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Rocky Mountains
  • Plant Size: 6”-2’
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 6-10

Utah Agave is, as the name suggests, native to the Utah area, though it grows all over the western United States. This large succulent has won the RHS Award of Garden Merit for its beauty and unique look. It has fleshy blue leaves that are usually perfectly symmetrical.

As with most desert plants, the Utah Agave does not need much water to survive and is in far more danger of being overwatered than drying out.

There are three variations of Utah Agave, the subspecies kaibabensis, and the variants nevadensis and eborispina. All three are beautiful plants that thrive in dry environments with little maintenance.

Western Wild Rose

Rosa woodsii
Western Wild Rose blooms with pale pink flowers from late spring to mid-summer.
Scientific Name: Rosa woodsii
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: The United States
  • Plant Size: 3’-6’
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

The Western Wild Rose, also known as the Woods’ Rose, has deep green leaves and light pink flowers. It typically blooms in late spring to mid-summer and is a shrub rose rather than a climbing rose.

The Western Wild Rose is drought resistant and does well in well-drained soil. Its roots make it perfect as an erosion barrier, although, as with any thorny plant, it should not be grown near walkways. This plant is well suited to a garden bed or in front of a home’s windows.

Final Thoughts

If you live in Utah, you now know the best perennials you can plant in your garden or backyard to witness beautiful blooms year after year. Any one of these beautiful plants is a great addition to any garden. They can add differently colored interest to your garden, and each of these plants will be able to measure up to the varied microclimates that Utah has to offer.

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