Perennial Plants for Ohio


garden view
One of my gardens in Central Ohio

A wide range of perennials grow well in Ohio due to its good soils and plentiful rainfall. Perennials for Ohio are chosen for their adaptation to the conditions of this state, rather than what might grow if coddled or given special care.

Ohioans can bring plants in out of the cold to winter over or protect them with covers, but a truly perennial plant will be one that thrives in the Zone 5 temperatures, the humid summers, and a given soil.

Soils in Ohio range from somewhat acid to alkaline, so a soil test is a good indicator of which perennial plants are best for an area. If a plant can tolerate a range of pH from mildly acid to mildly alkaline, it is likely to do well in this region. Learning about the plants native to the Buckeye state will also lead you to some fine garden additions.

A traditional perennial garden remains one of the most desired landscape features in America.”

– The Renegade Gardener

All Over Ohio, And Other States, Too

daylilies are perennial
Daylilies are perennials that grow well in Ohio Famartin [CC BY-SA (]

Sunny Spots Make Ideal Perennial Garden Plots

Because they are tough, hardy, and do well in many areas of the USA, the first choice of plants will likely be those which we call “Prairie Plants“.

  • Coneflowers
  • Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans)
  • Liatris spicata
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Baptisia spp. 
  • Asclepsia  tuberosa
  • Penstemon digitalis

Desirable perennial plants will be tolerant and thrive in a range of soil and moisture conditions, they will be hardy for your area, and will be long lived. Since “perennial” describes the growth cycle, be aware that some plants in this group might not be long lived. They might persist for a few seasons and then disappear without special care.

Good bets are native plants, but only if they thrive in your part of the country or conditions of your particular garden.i.e. woodland plants could suffer in a dry, sunny spot.

Woodland Plants for Partly Sunny to Shady Areas

Flickr - brewbooks - Arisaema in Woodland Garden
Wood land flowers by Flickr_-_brewbooks_

Most of Ohio was originally woodland, and many gardens boast at least a tree or two. The best conditions for these perennial plants are those with partly sunny or dappled shade and regular moisture that drains away well. While it is possible to find candidates for boggy land or dry, deep shade, the majority of vegetation need modest amounts of sunshine and good drainage.

  • Geranium maculatum
  • Lobelia cardinalis
  • Aquilegia canadensis
  • Chelone glabra
  • Aster divaricatus (Eurybia divaricata)
  • Lupinis perennis

Not Just Natives

Siberian Irises are perennial plants in the Ohio garden
Siberian Iris 123jh [CC BY-SA (]

Garden plants come from all over the world and, if they are planted in conditions they like, will thrive and multiply for many years. Many of our old fashioned favorites are in this category. Think of roses, peonies, and carnations- in fact most of the mainstays of the garden are imported from other areas of the world.

Some of these plants may outlive you!

  • Peonies
  • Siberian Iris
  • Phlox
  • Hostas
  • Hemerocallis (dallies)

A gardener can choose the type and style of plantings they wish to have but a few keys will contribute to a successful plan. If a complete list of good choices for gardening in Ohio is desired, check out my Plant Library of Perennials.

Goals for perennial plants include persistence, health, and reasonable vigor. (Multiplying, but not becoming a nuisance).

Keys to Perennial Plants in the Garden

  • Determine the hardiness zones and use choices that are hardy in your garden. While there is some leeway due to microclimates, a cold winter can decimate the plantings that are marginal in your region.
  • Discover the conditions of soil, including moisture retention and drainage. For many flowers the right conditions dictate the longevity of the plants in your landscape.
  • Use information on which practices prolong the life of your plantings. Whether to mulch or provide water in a drought, whether to remove last seasons growth or how often to feed a plant can make a great deal of difference in health and whether your perennials are resistant to disease or pests.

Best Plants and Landscaping Style for Central Ohio

If you have a typical suburban property or urban garden, the best styles are those which suit your house architecture. Formal or informal plans with plants that grow well on average soils with average moisture, for the most part will suit a vast number of homes.

If you have a wooded property, then many perennials with partly sunny or shade requirements will grow well. Remember that perennials usually need enough moisture and nutrients that they will have a problem if competing with greedy tree roots; especially those of the Maple tree.

One style that I think goes exceptionally well with conditions and homes in Ohio is the New American style which was made popular by Piet Oudolf. This is a gardened landscape that is filled with easy care perennials and grasses. Many landscape designers use it for public spaces.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author


I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of "Ilona's Reflecting Pool". Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. The work on "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.