Top 10 Perennials for Ottawa

Top 10 Perennials for Ottawa

The perfect garden is willed into reality with a careful combination of vibrancy, subtlety and harmonization. When you’re seeking that beautiful yet easy-to-care-for addition, perennial plants are a wonderful option. Many people don’t realize that there are thousands of beautiful variations in different shapes, growth heights and eye-popping colours. Here is an overview of some of the most beautiful and best perennials for your Ottawa-area garden.

Ten Low-Maintenance Perennials

First, why don’t we explore some of the easiest perennials to care for? Whether you are a seasoned gardener or looking to develop a green thumb, you should know that perennial plants are the backbone of any home garden. Most are low-maintenance, easy to plant, regrow every year and are not prone to disease or insect problems. The City of Ottawa has compiled a list of ten low-maintenance perennials which we would like to share with you:

Fern-Leaf Yarrow

1: Fern-Leaf Yarrow

This tall blooming fern-like plant blooms in early summer. The flat flowers on top are usually yellow, but can also be pink or red. Plant them in a sunny location with moist and fertile soil. If you plant in dry soil, they may be prone to a mildew disease which usually appears in August, so soil quality is very important. Divide them every few years to prevent overgrowth.

Silver Sage

These plants are meant to thrive in hot and dry climates, but they work equally well in Ottawa’s climate. These plants give an intriguing white/silver sheen to your home garden, and contrast well with darker plants. These plants need full sun, but they can thrive in most types of soil. Divide them yearly in spring or fall. Make sure to trim the bush, otherwise it begins to flop over.


This plant is inconspicuous and provides good greenery, but the attractive violet plume flowers that spike upward look beautiful. Use this plant to add some height and vibrancy to your home garden. They grow best in partial shade with fertile and moist soil. Divide every spring.

Purple Coneflower

These tall stocks add some height to your garden as well, and the daisy flower head with pink petals and a brown cone is a classic look for any home garden. Grow these in full sun with ordinary garden soil. Clumps should be divided every spring.

Cushion Spurge

This short plant adds vibrant colour any garden. E. griffithii has flame orange flowers in the fall, while E. myrsinities has bright yellow bracts. Either one, or a combination of both, will make your garden look stunning. Grow these in full sun with well-drained soil, and divide carefully in early spring.

Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are a wide class, with over 6,000 different species. Any one you choose with all gentle height and movement to your garden. Grow them in full sun with ordinary garden soil. Divide them in early spring. Beware of invasive grasses which you should not plant in Ottawa. These include Giant Reed, Skinner’s Gold, Lime Grass, Mana Grass, Giant Silver Grass, Ribbon Grass, and Cord Grass.


This is a very popular perennial, and you’ve probably seen in it home gardens around the neighbourhood. It has long and tall blades that fall over, creating an almost waterfall-like effect at the edge of your garden. They grow best in full sun in ordinary soil and can be divided at any time.

Golden Ray

Otherwise known as ligularia, his wide-leaved plant is known for its low maintenance and long lifespan. They can grow quite wide, as much as three feet across. They grow best in full sun in rich, moist soil. They rarely need division, but can be divided in the spring.

Garden Peony

These plants also have a very long lifespan. Peonies come in large and bushy mounds that can be surprisingly wide and tall. The leaves are shiny and attractive, but it is the yellow or red flowers on top that look most beautiful. Grow them in full sun with deep and fertile soil.


These succulent plants work well in dry conditions. Stonecrop grows low, making it a perfect groundcover perennial. There are many different varieties, all with different flowering colours. Grow them in full sun in ordinary soil, and divide at any time.

Our Favourite Perennials

Ottawa is home to a varied and ever-changing climate, but that doesn’t mean that all perennials will be affected the same way. Some may flourish more than others. Here are 5 of our favourite perennials that are the perfect compliment for your National Capital Region-area garden, all of which are relatively iconic and easy to find as a result.

1: Roses

We know, roses can be fickle beasts depending on the specific variation you have in mind, but hear us out; they’re simply gorgeous and many blooms actually do quite well in the Ottawa area. Be sure to check with a gardening expert about the hardiest blooms for the area when on the verge of selecting one.

2: Irises

Another stunningly beautiful perennial is the iconic iris. The trick with these tall and vibrant flowers is that they need to be divided and planted between late July and late August to ready them for the following year. Blooming takes place in spring and typically lasts through early summer.

3: Dahlias

These are sumptuously petaled and elegant flowers that do extremely well throughout most parts of Canada, including Ottawa. They require a little more attention, but the brilliance of their blooms (in a vast range of colours) more than makes up for it in our opinion. The key to having a garden full of vivacious and striking dahlias is to dig up their tubers and store them indoors during the winter. Then, start growing these tubers indoors in April before planting them once the weather and soil begins to warm up.

4: Marigolds

It’s not uncommon to find several gardens throughout Ottawa boasting oodles of luscious and vibrant marigolds. Easy to grow with a huge payoff in terms of added beauty to your garden, they can tolerate a wide range of soil and climate conditions, making them perfect for Ottawa’s fluctuating weather patterns and temperatures. They aren’t generally fussy other than requiring full sun, and they can be planted six to eight weeks before the last frost date (though we recommend waiting a little longer just to be safe). Try cutting the blooms off at the end of the blooming season and hang them upside-down in bundles. This way, you can extract seeds from the heads once they’re dry and crisp.

5: Zinnias

Zinnias are perfect for beginners and seasoned gardeners (pardon the pun) who have a respect for simplistic beauty. The simplicity of these lovely little flowers is evident in their ideal growing requirements – they only need full sun, warmth and well-drained soil rich in organic matter (easy enough if you compost). Blooming in a beautiful spectrum of colours, they add a snap, crackle and pop to your garden with minimal effort.

When it comes to planning a beautiful and lush garden full of colour and charm, you simply can’t do wrong with perennials. With so many varieties in all shapes and sizes that thrive in the Ottawa area, the possibilities are quite literally endless. Try something new and give one of these beautiful blooms a chance! Check out Aden Earthworks’ picks for Ontario perennials and annuals to learn about even more beautiful flowers that will harmonize stunningly with your landscaping.

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