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Yellow Perennial Flowers: Bring Sunshine to Your Yard

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yellow golden rod

yellow golden rod

Living in Zone 5a impacts a gardener’s desire to extend the season. From the sprouting of the first bulbs in spring to the battle against the first frost in fall (with a yard full of quilts and sheets protecting annual flowers), keeping the floral show live as long as possible is the goal.

In my flower garden, yellow perennial flowers form the backdrop for season long color. Their ability to complement bold colors like purple, or bring out the heat in oranges and reds, gives them a leading role.

As a gardener with a large vegetable garden to tend, I like to keep my perennial gardens simple and low maintenance, and also bursting with color and texture.

Over the years, I’ve purchased and planted a plethora of different perennials. Many of them were too high maintenance or didn’t survive the conditions in my garden.

In this article, I’m sharing my favorite yellow perennial flowers to add an extra pop of sunshine to your flower beds in spring, summer and fall.


Yellow Perennial Flowers for Long-Lasting Color​

SPRING


The weight of winter’s impact on our cold, green deprived hearts can be measured in the excitement for spring bulbs.

When you’re planning for a season full of color, don’t forget to add plenty of spring bulbs to your list. Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, a family owned company in Virginia, has a spectacular selection of bulbs. I’ve placed many orders through their website for fall planting over the years.

(I don’t know them and they’re not sponsoring this post, I just think they’re a great company.)

Plant spring bulbs in full sun to encourage plentiful blooms and strong plants. Here are some of my favorites:

yellow perennial bulbs

Crocus
A crocus flower would easily be hidden in a garden full of bushy and lanky perennials, but by being one of the first on the scene, crocuses scream “Look at me!”.

I have a patch of crocuses growing right next to my front door. The early spring sun reflects off the house foundation and jump starts their sprouting and flowering, giving me my first warm spring flower vibes of the year.

Crocus flowers come in the white, yellow and purple. I usually buy a variety pack that features all three colors because I love how they complement each other when planted together.

Spring Crocus Species Mixture

spring bulb


Photo by Chris Linnett on Unsplash

Daffodils
The crocus gets the show started early in the season and the daffodil picks up right when the crocus exits the stage. I love the look of mangy spring lawns with daffodils sprouting in the lawn. They create a meadow effect with the daffodil foliage blending in with the tall grass.

There are hundreds of daffodil varieties out in the world for your planting pleasure. The most important thing to know if that there are early, mid and late season blooming types. I always buy several of each to extend the bloom time.

Brent and Becky’s Daffodil Favorites

red and yellow tulips

Tulips
What would spring be without the tulip? Think of the countless tulip festivals around the world and the incredible displays that this flower accomplishes.

Planting tulip bulbs can have a paint by numbers feel when they are planted in the fall. Seeing what happens the following spring can confirm your planting prowess or your need to order more bulbs. You can never have too many.

One of the things I love about Brent and Becky’s Bulbs is that they have more unique varieties than my local nurseries and big box stores.

Banja Luka has been a favorite yellow tulip with red striping.

Tulipa tarda is a delicate, unique tulip

bright yellow tulip

Iris
Iris, technically a rhizome, brings color and texture to perennial late spring garden beds. The long bladed leaves provide great contrast to bushy foliage and the frilly flowers have a delicate beauty that is unique.

When the yellow iris are blooming in my garden, they often time their blooms to accompany the purple allium, which makes for a dramatic punch.

Iris can grow anywhere in height from 8-38” inches tall. I prefer taller varieties that fill areas quickly in spring, but can be cut back in summer to make room for later bloomers.

Featuring yellow perennial bulbs like tulips, crocus, daffodils, and iris brings the grey-green winter landscape back to life in spring.

Read more about colorful and unusual bulbs to plant in autumn. And how I add spring color to my vegetable garden with bulbs.

Spring Perennial Flowers


Perennial gardens take a little time to get up to speed. The early spring foliage is compact and tidy, giving the early garden a managed and organized look.

Eventually, as spring turns to summer, chaos occurs. Having a plant that fills a space is wonderful, but having a plant that takes over a space can become a battle. This is a fine line to walk in the perennial garden.

This list of yellow perennial flowers all do best in full sun gardens.

yellow perennial yarrow

Yarrow
Moonshine yellow yarrow, Achillea x ‘Moonshine’, is an excellent spring perennial that can fill an area with visually interesting silver foliage and produces umbral flowers that bees and insects love.

I have planted Moonshine yarrow next to May Night Salvia, Salvia sylvestris, and appreciated the contrasting foliage and complementary purple color.

Moonshine Yarrow tends to stay in a tidy clump form and doesn’t spread aggressively by seed or root.

yellow wild indigo


Photo courtesy of White Oak Gardens

Yellow Wild Indigo
Yellow Wild Indigo, Baptisia tinctoria, is another clumping shaped yellow perennial flower that can fill a space with both attractive foliage and flowers. A native plant to the midwest, it prefers well drained soil and space to grow.

When given a chance to establish it will grow more bush-like with deep prairie roots. Plan ahead when placing this plant, it does not transplant well and can outgrow a smaller space given time.

SUMMER


When the perennial garden is starting to gain momentum in early summer, the vegetable garden is still far from its glory in late August.

Having striking yellow foliage in the flower beds can contrast well with the annual vegetables. Perennial flowers draw scores of beneficial insects and pollinators into the front yard, which benefits the vegetable garden.



yellow display of coreopsis

Coreopsis
Moonbeam coreopsis, Coreopsis verticillata, is a compact yellow flower with lacy foliage that helps the plant perform double duty, providing both color and texture, in your garden. It’s low in stature, so planting it near the front edge of your beds will keep it from getting buried by taller, bushier plants.

My perennial flower bed near the road is often buried in the winter with snowbanks. The slow thawing snow bank proved to be too wet and heavy for this plant. It prefers the well-drained, drier soils in the beds near the house.

black eyed susan in the garden

Rudbeckia
I’ve tried many annual and perennial rudbeckias throughout the years because they’re one of my favorite flowers. Many of them don’t come back for a second year, even if they’re labeled as perennial, and a few of them are bullies and take over.

Little Henry, Rudbeckia subtomentosa, is neither of those things! It’s well behaved and cheerily blooms for many weeks, delighting me every time I pass them by.

Stella D'oro Daylily border


Photo courtesy of American Meadows

Daylily
Stella D’Oro Daylily, Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’, is one of those plants that wins the solid performer award. It’s more refined than the ditch lilies seen alongside rural roads, more gold and less orange, with long bloom times and compact shape that is about 2’ height and 2’ width.

Similar to the previous plants on the list, Stella D’ Oro has ornamental foliage that keeps a compact form and really shines when planted in a large clump or group.

yellow summer perennial flowers


Photo courtesy of Prairie Nursery

Coneflower
Purple Coneflower can be found everywhere in the prairies and home gardens of the Midwest, including mine. For a different take on this popular flower, try planting Yellow Coneflower, Ratibida Pinnata. It’s a native perennial also found in the open prairies and oak savannas of the Midwest.

Pollinators are attracted to the frilly flower heads and the green seed heads mature to brown and provide late season food to songbirds.

A tall slender plant, yellow coneflower fits perfectly in less formal prairie-like gardens. Its randomly popping flower heads stand out amongst layers of foliage and flowers.

Read more about my other favorite summer blooming perennials.

yellow brown eyed susan


Photo by Gordon Chaffin on Unsplash

FALL


Rudbeckia
Rudbeckia Brown Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba, is a biennial prairie plant that fills the late summer and fall garden with vibrant yellow flowers capped with beautifully contrasting black seed heads.

Brown Eyed Susan came with my house when we purchased it in 2014. It would randomly self seed around the yard and next to the garage. After noting year after year how the blooms on this plant seemed to last for almost a month, I decided to transplant some first year plants into my perennial flower bed.

The unassuming foliage will be lost amongst its neighbors in the late summer garden, but the purplish flower stems and contrasting yellow flowers and black seed head make this a beauty in an informal garden setting.

yellow fireworks goldenrod

Goldenrod
Fireworks Goldenrod, Solidago rugosa, is a late summer, early fall flower that is aptly named. The flowers cascade from the plant like trails of sparks from a fourth of July pyrotechnic display.

The foliage emerges in spring with a dark green color and the plant’s form is a tight clump that will eventually spread to about 3’ to 4’.

Stout stems keep this plant upright and help prevent it from flopping over if grown without adjacent plant support in the form of cages, or similar tall prairie plants.

This foliage can get a little aggressive if allowed to grow into adjacent plants. The rhizomes of fireworks wrapped their way into the iris that I had growing next to it, so keeping this plant in place can require thinning.

It’s difficult to imagine a garden without yellow perennial flowers. Yellow is a symbol of sunshine, energy, joy and happiness, which are also words I would use to describe the act of gardening. This season, embrace the color yellow by sprinkling it throughout your garden in spring, summer and fall to energize and enliven your home landscape.

Additional Resources for How to Design a Flower Garden​


If you’re like me you might always have a big pile of gardening books next to your favorite reading chair. There are so many good ones out there that sometimes it’s difficult to choose.

The titles below are my four favorite flower garden design books.

Click on the cover for more information.

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Check out my other recommended garden tools, books, seeds, supplies and more in my Amazon storefront.

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