Horticulture Magazine

20 Hardy Perennials Suited To The UK Climate

yellow Coreopsis verticillata in bloom

The UK climate is the source of much conversation and, depending on where you live, consternation.

These plants are well-suited to the UK climate which, even though we love to grumble about it, really isn’t as bad as some other parts of the world.

Each plant in this list will make a pleasant visual contribution to your garden, and they won’t require too much in the way of maintenance.

pink flowers and rounded foliage of Cyclamen coum

For this list, we’ve chosen plants that are rated at least H5 on the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) hardiness scale. [source]

These plants can comfortably handle temperatures below minus ten, so should stand in good stead to take whatever the UK weather throws at them.

Each plant in the list is also a recipient of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, designating them as particularly suitable for growth in UK conditions. [source]

magnified view of two bumblebees harvesting pollen from flower of Blue eryngium

And what’s more, each plant is renowned for being especially attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Choose next season’s plants from this list, and your garden will be a medley of colour and life by the time spring rolls round!

1) Foxglove

pink foxgloves with a bee sat the flower
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Digitalis purpurea
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: CAMELOT ROSE
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • HARDY TO: -10 to -15°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: PART SHADE
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

This short-lived perennial will stick around for a few years if treated well, and will bring its undeniable aesthetic to your garden for the duration.

Foxglove’s tall, proud stems soar into the air, replete with multiple purple bell-shaped flowers.

In the spring and summer, it’s rare that you’ll find your foxglove bee-free.

They absolutely love it, and the high number of flowers provide a plentiful supply of tasty pollen.

foxglove foliage covered in frost over winter

In terms of growing conditions, foxglove thrives in part shade.

It can tolerate any aspect, and isn’t fussy in terms of exposure.

Try to find a spot with loamy or sandy soil, and ensure it can drain well. Avoid alkali soil where possible.

Once it reaches full size, your foxglove should reach heights of around 1 to 1.5 metres, with a spread of about half a metre.

2) Cranesbill

lilac cranesbill flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Geranium subcaulescens
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Splendens; Giuseppii
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • HARDY TO: -10 to -15°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN / PART SHADE
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SPRING / SUMMER

This cheery purple fellow can be annual, biennial, or perennial, depending on the variety.

Splendens falls into the latter category, bringing a recurring burst of purple to your garden in spring and summer.

If you’ve opted to grow foxglove, the two would look very nice alongside each other!

The Splendens variety is a mat-forming plant, meaning it hangs fairly low to the ground.

Many gardeners like to use mat-forming perennials to provide visual interest on the low levels of flowerbeds.

A splash of colour near the ground can do wonders in highlighting the other colours above.

four Geranium subcaulescens flowers

Splendens likes full sun or partial shade, and like foxglove, isn’t fussy about aspect or exposure.

It’s a bit more forgiving with soil types, too, tolerating chalk and clay alongside foxglove’s loam and sand.

Soil acidity isn’t something to worry about, either.

At full height your splendens won’t surpass 10cm or so, thanks to its mat-forming tendencies.

It will spread out to a range of about half a metre, meaning you can enjoy it without having to worry about it engulfing nearby plants or paths.

3) Gold Dust

yellow bushy flowers of Aurinia saxatilis in a large garden bed
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Aurinia saxatilis
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • HARDY TO: -10 to -15°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN; EXPOSED
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SPRING / SUMMER

This plant really is something to behold.

Is 4-petalled flowers bring a special vibrancy to any garden, working well by themselves, or incorporated into a wider floral display.

At a maximum height of around half a metre, ‘Basket of Gold’ provides its visual interest a little bit higher than Geranium subcaulescens.

And unlike the previous two plants, this one requires full sun, is fussy about aspect (south- or east-facing only), and prefers exposure to shelter.

Try to avoid clay soil, and make sure the soil can drain well to keep this plant in optimal condition.

4) Tickseed

Coreopsis verticillata zagreb with bright yellow flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Coreopsis verticillata
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Zagreb (Pictured)
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • HARDY TO: -10 to -15°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN / PART SHADE
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER / AUTUMN

Here’s another fantastic eruption of yellow, this time boasting bushels of daisy-like flowers.

As a clump-forming perennial, Grandiflora brings something quite visually different from the others in this list – perfect if you’re looking to mix things up a little.

This jolly customer will do well in full sun or partial shade, and will be happy with any aspect.

It’s OK exposed or in shelter, and is only averse to clayey soil.

Over the five or so years it takes to get to full height, Grandiflora will bless your garden with its yellow bloom every summer and autumn, retaining its visual interest later in the season than some other plants.

5) Mexican Fleabane

Mexican Fleabane Plant growing on a stone wall
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Erigeron karvinskianus
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • HARDY TO: -10 to -15°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN; EXPOSED
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

As the name suggests, this white mat-forming perennial hails originally from Mexico and neighbouring South American countries.

Now firmly settled in the UK, however, it grants British gardeners with dense white floral mats in the summer months. (You may also see tints of purple and pink in the mix, if you’re lucky.)

While it can look a little scruffy (some might even say ‘weedy’), rest assured that Mexican fleabane is an attractive addition to any garden.

It’s versatile, too: As a mat-forming plant it shares the same appeal as Geranium Splendens, and as a blanket of white, it’s a beautiful backdrop for almost any other colour.

This plant loves full sun in a sheltered spot, and likes any aspect except north-facing.

Avoid clay soil, and take special care that the soil can definitely drain well.

Treat it right, and Mexican fleabane will reward you with a lovely white floral mat about a metre square in size.

6) Alpine Aster

lilac and yellow coloured alpine asters in flower
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Aster alpinus
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • HARDY TO: -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

We’ve had purple, pink, yellow, and white. Now, how about violet?

The enchanting flowers of the Alpine aster come in a gentle shade of violet that effortlessly invites your gaze, and the bold yellow centres make the whole thing pop.

This herbaceous clump-forming perennial hails from the Alps and Pyrenees – two vast and wild mountain ranges – meaning it definitely has the hardiness credentials required to manage through a British winter.

Plant your Alpine aster in full sun, anywhere except a north-facing aspect, and avoid soil with too much clay.

Make sure it can drain well, and enjoy the gentle bloom!

7) Yellow Mullein

tall upright blooms of yellow mullein in a large country garden
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Verbascum epixanthinum
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • HARDY TO: -10 to -15°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN; SHELTERED
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

Take care when trying to say this plant’s full name in front of your friends, as it’s quite likely they’ll think you’re speaking to them in tongues, and may intervene.

Tongue-twisting name aside, this is an intriguing and striking short-lived perennial.

Similarly to foxglove, the flowers cluster densely around an erect stem that reaches far into the air.

Where foxglove brings purple and pink flowers, though, the Yellow mullein brings… Yellow ones.

Grow it somewhere in full sun, nicely sheltered, and with a south-facing aspect, and Yellow mullein will reward you with fantastic bright yellow blooms every summer.

At a maximum height and spread of about one metre, the plant takes up a nice bit of space in flower beds, acting as a great centrepiece for other blooms.

8) Blanketflower

bright orange and yellow flowers of Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Kobold'
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Gaillardia × grandiflora
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Dazzler; Kobold (Pictured)
  • HARDINESS RATING: H5
  • HARDY TO: -10 to -15°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER / AUTUMN

9) Catmint

Nepeta grandiflora in bloom
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Nepeta grandiflora
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Bramdean
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • HARDY TO: -15 to -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

10) Prairie Meadow

bright pink Prairie Mallow flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Sidalcea
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: OBERON
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • HARDY TO: -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN; SHELTERED
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

11) Masterwort

burgundy coloured astrantia flowers alongside a garden path
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Astrantia
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Burgundy Manor
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • HARDY TO: -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: ANY; SHELTERED
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

12) Peony

flowering Paeonia mlokosewitschii in a garden
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Paeonia daurica
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Mlokosewitschii (Pictured)
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • HARDY TO: -15 to -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: ANY
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SPRING

13) Stinking Hellebore

Helleborus foetidus flowers in bloom
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Helleborus foetidus
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • HARDY TO: -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: ANY; SHELTERED
  • FLOWERING SEASON: WINTER

14) Ruthenian Globe Thistle

bees harvesting pollen from a circular shaped Ruthenian Globe Thistle flower
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Echinops ritro
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Ruthenicus (Pictured)
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • HARDY TO: -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: ANY; EXPOSED
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

15) Lungwort

flowering lungwort plant
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Pulmonaria
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Diana Clare
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • HARDY TO: -15 to -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL OR PART SHADE
  • FLOWERING SEASON: WINTER / SPRING

16) Rose Campion

white bushy flowers of rose campion
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Lychnis coronaria
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Alba (Pictured)
  • HARDINESS RATING: H7
  • HARDY TO: -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: ANY
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

17) Gooseneck Loosestrife

gooseneck loosestrife bush with conical white flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Lysimachia clethroides
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • HARDY TO: -15 to -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: ANY; SHELTERED
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

18) Strawberry

ripening strawberries on a branch
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Fragaria × ananassa
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Pegasus
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • HARDY TO: -15 to -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN; SHELTERED
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SPRING

19) Goat’s Beard

Aruncus dioicus with lots of white flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Aruncus dioicus
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • HARDY TO: -15 to -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: ANY
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

20) Miss Willmott’s Ghost

bees harvesting pollen from Eryngium giganteum
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Eryngium giganteum
  • HARDINESS RATING: H6
  • HARDY TO: -15 to -20°C
  • PREFERRED SPOT: FULL SUN
  • FLOWERING SEASON: SUMMER

That’s not all!

The flowers above are, in our opinion, a fine cross-section of what to expect from hardy perennials in the UK.

There may be some names missing that you expected to see, but this was partly deliberate (what better way to get acquainted with some new flowers?), and partly due to the sheer volume of hardy perennials available.

So, if you didn’t find anything in this list to your liking, don’t despair! There are literally thousands of options to choose from.

And whatever you go for, we hope the weather at least holds out long enough for you to get your new hardy perennials in the ground!

© 2021 TKO DIGITAL LTD | Registered in England and Wales No. 10866260 | This website uses cookies.