First year flowering perennials By LAURA ROBLES

Beautiful options grown in one season with no vernalization required

As instant gratification has become more and more popular in all aspects of our society, so has the demand for first-year flowering perennials. There are many beautiful options that can be grown to a finished, flowering plant in one season with no vernalization required. Here are just a few that are available in the Walters Gardens offering.


The first one that comes to mind is hardy hibiscus. These gorgeous plants have the look of the tropics but on a perennial chassis hardy to zone 4. Hardy hibiscus will flower the same season from either a 72-count liner or from bare root, with liners being a better option for smaller, 1 to 2-gallon containers and bare root being the best option for larger containers such as 3-gallon. Hibiscus grows best in warmer temperatures, so the best time for planting this crop is late March through the end of June. You can expect a finished crop in 10-12 weeks, but flowering may take a bit longer in cooler temperatures or if plants are pinched after transplanting, and as with all of our perennials, the timing also depends on your location and environment.Edge of Night Hibiscus


Another tropical-looking perennial that will flower without any cold treatment is Kniphofia, or Red Hot Poker. Our selections in this genus combine grass-like foliage with tall flower scapes starting in early summer and repeating blooming until fall, and hardy to zones 5b/6 depending on variety. All of our kniphofia are offered as bare root, but the Pyromania collection also comes in a 72-count option. Both inputs can be planted in early spring to late spring for a same season finish.Kniphofia Hot and Cold


If you want to check off the box for both first-year flowering and great pollinator plants, you may want to give Agastache a try. These drought-tolerant, heat-loving perennials attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees, and are available in 72 count liners as well as larger 30-count liners for an even faster finish option (and smaller quantity per tray). Agastache are super easy to grow and are best planted in spring to early summer when temperatures are warmer and more to their liking.Agastache Queen Nectarine


Salvia is always a sought-after perennial and all of the Salvia nemorosa types will bloom the first year. The Walters Gardens line up includes the Bumble series, Profusion series and some of the hybrids that are crosses between Salvia nemorosa and Salvia pratensis. All of these varieties are offered in both a 72 count liner and bare root, and like the Kniphofia, can be planted in early spring through late spring. Liners can also be planted in summer to fall and overwintered for a bigger, bulkier plant with even more flowers.Salvia 'Pink Profusion'


One last first-year flowering perennial that is always in high demand is nepeta. We offer several selections ranging from petite to moderate-sized and from the typical gray-green foliage to our new offering ‘Chartreuse on the Loose’ with bright chartreuse foliage and lavender blue flowers. Nepeta are available in both 128 and 72-count liners depending on variety, as well as bare root, and are available nearly all year round. All sizes can be planted in spring for same season finishing, with the smaller liners better for quart and 2.5QT containers. Liners will need to be sheared for best performance, and can also be planted in summer or fall for overwintering to get a larger product. Bare root is available from January through June.Nepeta 'Chartreuse on the Loose'

While these and many more genera are truly first-year flowering and do not require vernalization to flower and perform well, don’t forget about all of the wonderful Nepeta ‘Chartreuse on the Loose’ perennials that are available as vernalized liners or bare roots. These act just like a first-year flowering perennial and will bloom the same season since we have given them all the cooling they need here in our greenhouses and fields.


Laura Robles is the regional product manager for Walters Gardens. Connect with Laura through email at

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