Perennials in shades of red are summer beauties

Rob Zimmer
Special Contributor

The summer of scarlet has begun and as the peak of summer bloom is underway, a variety of perennials that bloom in shades of red begin to strut their stuff. 

Surprisingly, there are very few perennials available in the richest shades of red. While purples, oranges and yellows steal the stage, red remains rather difficult to come by when it comes to summer blooming perennials.

Those that are available are breathtaking in color, form and texture, providing showstopping color throughout mid to late summer.

Royal Catchfly

Royal Catchfly is a spectacular native perennial wildflower that blooms in plumes containing large, star shaped flowers. Hummingbirds and many species of butterflies and moths are attracted to this breathtaking native plant.

Royal Catchfly is somewhat difficult to find at garden centers, though it is available via mail order from Wisconsin native plant nurseries, as well as at Stone Silo Prairie Gardens in De Pere.

This plant prefers full to part sun, growing 3 to 5 feet in height. It tolerates a variety of soils including sand, loam and clay.

Bee Balm 

Another spectacular scarlet summer bloomer is Oswego Tea or Scarlet bee balm. This variety of bee balm features large, feathery flowers that are heavily fragrant and attract hummingbirds and butterflies, as well as bees and other pollinators.

Growing 2 to 5 feet tall, this variety of bee balm is much larger than our native wild bergamot, providing stunning color and long-lasting beauty.

Daylilies in Red

Collecting a few varieties of daylilies that bloom in scarlet is a great way to add long-lasting color to the summer garden. You'll find many great choices in red daylilies available at your local garden center or daily grower. 

Cardinal Flower

August and September are the peak flowering season for the spectacular, scarlet spikes of cardinal flower. A member of the lobelia family, cardinal flower is native across our area, growing in open Woodlands, moist ditches and along streams and rivers. 

Cardinal flower is a great addition to woodland edges, rain gardens and wetland edges where it thrives in moist locations and part shade. 

Hardy Hibiscus

Also peaking in August and September, the massive, dinnerplate blooms of hardy hibiscus begin to unfurl, sometimes reaching 8 to 10 inches across. 

Hardy hibiscus, also known as Rose Mallow, is a popular shrublike plant with massive, tropical blooms. These plants are winter hardy in our area, unlike the tropical hibiscus, for which it is often mistaken. 

Hardy hibiscus bloom in shades of red, pink and white, with dramatic foliage that may be black, green, red or purple.

Find Rob Zimmer online at On Facebook

Dinner plate blossoms and a tough, shrubby growth form make hardy hibiscus, or rose mallow, a favorite among Wisconsin gardeners.