A flower gardener’s dream! The colorful impact of annual bedding plants with the reliable longevity of perennials.
Can it be done? Yes! Pick fast-growing perennials in the fastest seed-to-bloom varieties.
Our list below is 20 of the choicest first-year-blooming perennials to give your garden instant impact.
Mix & Match
Our blooming backyards are always evolving. We learn and grow along with our blossoming friends.
Mix fast-growing plants with the flower power of annuals for even more instant impact.
Match quick-to-bloom perennials in between slower-growing plants to help fill in space.
Perennials with first-year flowers are often short-lived perennials so they pair perfectly with long-living legacy plants that are slower to reach their full splendor.
As much as we love annuals for their inspirational waves of vibrant hues and pigments, they come with a price year after year.
Planting instant impact perennials are a pay-once subscription you can redeem for years to come.
Perennials From Seed? Absolutely!
Many of the perennials below will bloom in their first year, even when planted from seed.
Does your area have mild winters and a long growing season? Some of these perennials can be direct sown outdoors.
In areas with colder weather, start perennial seedlings indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date.
Find seed suppliers like Swallow Tail Garden Seeds that provide seeds for first-year-flowering perennials.
20 Instant Impact Perennials
1. Michaelmas Daisy (Aster amellus)
Michaelmas Daisies are a type of aster prized as a fall flowering perennial.
They are smothered in pink, purple, white, or blue daisy-like flowers from late summer to early fall.
Started from seed early in the spring, Michaelmas Daisies may bloom in their first year.
They thrive when planted in rich, well-draining soil in full to part sun.
2. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
A summer-blooming perennial or subshrub, Butterfly Bush produces large lilac-like panicles of fragrant plumes in pinks, purples, and whites.
Preferring moist, slightly acidic soils and full sun, Butterfly Bush grows 3 to 12 feet tall in zones 5 to 9.
Surprisingly, the vigorous flower power and butterfly magnetism of Butterfly Bush is obvious, even in first-year plants.
3. Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
An impactful Milkweed variety that delivers soft pink to mauve blossom clusters in its first season.
This North American native plant is an important butterfly host plant that grows 3 to 5 feet tall.
Hardy in zones 3 to 6, Swamp Milkweed loves full sun and neutral clay-loam soils.
Learn more about growing Milkweed here: How to Grow Milkweed for An Endless Display of Monarch Butterflies.
4. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
An upright perennial lobelia species, Cardinal Flowers are bright red, pink, or white spires that reach 3 to 4 feet tall.
Hardy in zones 2 to 9, Cardinal Flowers attract hummingbirds and is a native plant to Canada and the USA.
Thriving in moist soils in full sun, Cardinal Flowers bloom in late summer, often in their first year.
5. Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
Bee Balm is a gorgeous native plant that blooms profusely, rivaling some annuals, even in its first growing season.
An excellent cut flower with a long-blooming season, Bee Balm blooms in summer in vibrant red, pink, and purple shades.
Plant Bee Balm in full sun in moist, slightly acidic soils for plants that reach 2 to 4 feet tall and survive zones 4 to 9.
6. Tickseed (Coreopsis)
Grown both as an annual or perennial, Tickseed grows 2 to 4 feet tall in sandy, slightly acidic soils in full sun.
Coreopsis species are a range of flowering plants native to North, Central, and South America that are hardy in zones 2 to 11.
The daisy-like flowers are abundant in summer and fall in autumnal shades of red, orange, yellow, white, and pink.
Glowing yellow Coreopsis varieties make our spectacular list of 12 Yellow Perennial Flowers To Add Sunshine To Your Backyard.
7. Giant Hyssop (Agastache sp.)
Is it lavender? No, is it sage? Is it mint? None of the above. In fact, it’s not even Hyssop.
Agastache are a range of North American native plants that create blooming spires of blue, purple, white, red, orange, and pink in summer in year one, even when grown from seed.
They prefer lean soils in full sun and reach 3 to 5 feet tall.
They grow in zones 3 to 10 and bring in hummingbirds and butterflies from miles around.
8. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
When you live in a place with a long growing season or if you can start seedlings very early, it is possible to get some biennial plants like Foxglove to bloom in their first season.
Even more exciting, there are many new F1 hybrids of Foxgloves that are bred to bloom super-fast.
The Dalmatian Foxglove series form compact, 2-to-3-foot plants. They are the fastest foxglove to bloom, incredibly in under 4 months from seed.
Similarly, the Camelot Foxglove series reach 3 to 4 feet tall with massive speckled flowers on impressive spires that are bred for first-year blooms.
For more on growing Foxgloves, see What To Do With Foxgloves After Flowering and 10 Secrets For Beautiful Foxglove Flowers.
9. Garden Pinks, Carnation (Dianthus sp.)
Sadly, there is never enough room in the garden for all the kinds of fascinating clove-scented dianthus to try.
Ranging from 6 to 36 inches tall, serrated dianthus flowers are single or double in contrasting whites, reds, and pinks.
Start dianthus early for first-year blossoms and perennial varieties will reward you by coming back year after year in zones 3 to 9.
10. Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum)
To love me, to love me not. Shasta Daisy is the quintessential long-petaled daisy flower we know and love.
Long bright white petals surround golden yellow centers. Variations of Shasta Daisy have narrow double petals like with ‘L. Crazy Daisy’ or oversized centers and uniform growth habit like in ‘L. Madonna’.
Easy to grow, the native Shasta Daisy bloom in late spring through early autumn on 1 to 3 foot tall plants in zones 5 to 9.
11. Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)
A stunner of a native plant, Blanket Flower gets its name from days when it would blanket large swaths of North American prairie.
Found growing in zones 3 to 10, Blanket Flower thrives in full sun and well-draining soil.
This deer-resistant perennial is sun-loving and impressively blooms in year one from seed or plant starts.
For serious first-season impact, look for the Arizona series that blooms up to 4 weeks earlier. It grows 12 inches tall holding upward facing 3-to-4-inch daisy-like flowers.
Colors inspired by fire, Blanket Flower are red, orange, and yellow in evolving cascades from center to petal tips.
12. Blackberry Lily (Iris domestica)
A rare member of the Iris family, Blackberry Lily is a rhizomatous perennial that is easy to grow and blooms in its first year.
A fantastic cut flower, also known as Freckle Face, the star-flowered lily blooms from August to September.
This orange, red, and yellow leopard spotted lily grows 2 to 3 feet tall, preferring full sun and well-draining soils.
13. Woodland Sage (Salvia nemorosa)
Like many perennial Salvias, Woodland Sage is long blooming, heat and drought tolerant, and loved by hummingbirds.
This Sage, however, has the benefit of being a first-year-blooming perennial for instant impact.
Woodland Sage is fast growing, forming attractive mounds with plentiful deep purple flower spikes.
Topping out at 24 inches, the short compact stature loves full sun in zones 4 to 8.
14. Fleabane (Erigeron)
Carpets of summer and fall color, the fast-growing, heat tolerant plants are often grown as productive annuals but are a hardy perennial in zones 5 and up.
Short varieties stay tidy and remain just 4 to 6 inches tall, while other varieties can reach up to 2 feet tall.
Multi-petaled daisy-like flowers burst crisp white which ages to darker shades of pink and violet.
15. Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
This giant plant grows 5 to 7 feet tall with astonishing speed, even blooming in its first year with an early sowing.
Blooming in summer in soft purple pinks, Joe-Pye Weed is native to North America and hardy in zones 4 to 9.
Structurally impressive, Joe-Pye Weed loves full-to-part sun and moist soils.
A creator of drama and excitement with lovely bee and butterfly visitors.
16. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea sp.)
Long-lasting flowers that are tough and persist through heat waves and dry spells, Purple Coneflower is also fast to impress.
Perfect for wildlife gardens, this native plant is avoided by deer but loved by bees, butterflies, and birds.
Varieties grow 2 to 5 feet tall and bloom in summer in zones 3 to 8. New spectacular cultivars are available with unique flower forms and growth habits.
To learn more about echinacea check out 20 Reasons To Grow Echinacea + How To Do It.
17. Beardtongue (Penstemon barbatus)
Perhaps my newest addiction in the plant world, Beardtongue are super impressive native plants.
The fun new series P. barbatus ‘Twizzle’ are first-year-flowering perennials that hit all the marks of height and impactful color.
Blue, coral, scarlet, purple, and white graceful twisting spires are long-blooming perennials that are deer resistant and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Beardtongue species vary widely. They grow 6 inches to 8 feet tall in zones 3 to 8, blooming best in full sun.
18. Lavender (Lavandula sp.)
We have learned to propagate lavender from cuttings, but it is also possible to grow lavender from seeds with germination in 2 to 3 weeks.
Lavender is so well loved for its fragrant flowers and foliage that it is not surprising it has an instant impact in the garden!
Fabulous for fresh or dried flower arrangements, lavender is also deer resistant, drought tolerant, and loved by bees and butterflies.
It is best to grow Lavender in full sun, in dry well-draining soil in zones 5 to 9. Plants may reach 2 to 3 feet tall.
19. Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)
Also known as Torch Lily, Red Hot Poker is a hugely valuable nectar source for hummingbirds.
The deer-resistant plants love full sun, tolerate heat, and reach 3 to 4 feet at maturity.
Thriving in zones 5 to 9, Red Hot Poker is native to South Africa.
The massive red, yellow, and orange torches make excellent cut flowers.
Start Red Hot Poker seeds early for instant impact with this spectacular perennial.
20. Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)
A star of the old-fashioned plants, hollyhock not only blooms for weeks and weeks on end, but perennial varieties will also start blooming in their first growing year.
The massive hibiscus-like flowers are white, mauve, burgundy, pink, yellow, and red. They bloom on giant spires from the bottom to the top.
Outstandingly tough, sturdy, and hardy in zones 2 to 10, Hollyhock reaches up to 8 feet tall.
Keep Hollyhock moist well-draining soils and plant in full sun for best results.
Here we have more Hollyhock tips.
The instant impact of fast-growing, first-year-blooming perennials is a flower gardener’s dream.
Mix and match in your ever-evolving blooming backyard to make the most of our list of fast seed-to-bloom impactful perennials.