Gardeners looking for plants that literally "rise above" the competition, this list is a good place to start. Tall perennials serve a valuable function in the landscape by adding height to the middle and back of the border. They can be used for screening, seasonal color, and adding extra impact into tight spaces.
Tall isn't a specific height and is relative to each individual garden. This list contains perennials that are tall in general, as well as plants that are taller than they are wide, and a few that a simply tall for their plant group.
Achillea 'Sassy Summer Lemon' and the rest of the Sassy Summer Collection are all taller varieties for their genus reaching about 2½' tall. These are improved, sturdy plants that resist lodging and opening up.
Variety Pictured: Achillea 'Sassy Summer Lemon'
Height: 28-32" | Zones: 3-8 | Full SunLearn More
While there are a lot of new dwarf cultivars out there, 'Galaxy White' keeps the traditional height of the plant. This plant will be at its tallest when the flowers come into bloom in Midsummer.
Variety Pictured: Agapanthus 'Galaxy White'
Height: 38-44" | Zones: 6-10 | Full SunLearn More
This bulky North American native is an excellent choice for adding height. Amsonia are among the earlier perennials to emerge in spring and can be used in the place of a shrub in the landscape.
Variety Pictured: Amsonia tabernaemontana 'Storm Cloud'
Height: 24-30" tall | Zones: 4-9 | Full to Part SunLearn More
One of the better options for tall perennials in shade, Aralia cordata reaches a very pleasing 3' in height.
Variety Pictured: Aralia cordata 'Sun King'
Height: 3' | Zones: 3-9 | Part Sun to Part ShadeLearn More
Another excellent option for adding height to shade, but just as good in sun. This cold hardy North American native gets up to size quickly, with blooms appearing like icing on the cake in early summer. Not to be confused with its popular shorter cousin Aruncus aethusifolius.
Variety Pictured: Aruncus dioicus
Height: 4-5' | Zones: 3-7 | Full Sun to Full ShadeLearn More
A staple North American native, species of Baptisia grow throughout the United States and southern Canada. These plants are tall, with newer cultivars having more refined habits that are less prone to opening up after bloom. This is another perennial with height that you will not have to wait for, blooming in Late Spring.
Variety Pictured: Baptisia DECADENCE® DELUXE 'Pink Truffles'
Height: 4-4½' | Zones: 4-9 | Full to Part SunLearn More
Let's move past the debate of 'is this a shrub or a perennial,' the truth is it lies somewhere in between, depending on your zone. Either way, 'Grand Cascade' is one of the largest and will put on an impressive amount of growth each year, getting up to 6' tall with cascading flower panicles more than a foot long.
Variety Pictured: Buddleia 'Grand Cascade'
Height: 5½-6' | Zones: 5-10 | Full SunLearn More
This is a cool season, clumping grass with a compact, erect growth habit. This plant flowers in late spring – incredibly early for an ornamental grass – with the seedheads lasting all season long.
Variety Pictured: Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
Height: 5' | Zones: 4-8 | Full SunLearn More
Non-vining Bush Clematis are capable of growing 3' tall and will do so with a very narrow foot print. These long blooming plants will fall over under the weight of their flowers and will need support.
Variety Pictured: Clematis 'Stand By Me'
Height: 34-38" | Zones: 3-7 | Full to Part SunLearn More
These classic garden perennials grow taller than they do wide, and can reach 4' in height. Staking is recommended to keep the large flower spikes upright through the summer.
Variety Pictured: Delphinium elatum 'Million Dollar Blue'
Height: 2½-3' | Zones: 3-7 | Full to Part SunLearn More
These natives of South Africa come in different sizes, including some that are very compact. Their height comes from their flower spikes, which appear in late summer. This is a later perennial to emerge in spring.
Variety Pictured: Eucomis 'Safari Adventure'
Height: 2½-3' | Zones: 6-9 | Full to Part SunLearn More
There are a great many varieties of Daylily, with the flowers offering the majority of the height for this plant. Taller cultivars can be hard to find, the majority of Daylilies are around 24-30" in height, but 'King of the Ages' will reach 38" tall.
Variety Pictured: Hemerocallis RAINBOW RHYTHM® 'King of the Ages'
Height: 38" | Zones: 3-9 | Full to Part SunLearn More
Hibiscus are an excellent, fast growing perennial to quickly add height to the landscape. Newer Hibiscus hybrids, like those in the SUMMERIFIC® series, have sturdier habits that do not flop open like older types.
Height: 4-4½' | Zones: 4-9 | Full to Part SunLearn More
When in flower, this South Africa native is taller than it is wide, with some varieties reaching 4-4½' tall. Kniphofia come in a range of sizes, although there are some dwarf cultivars out there.
Variety Pictured: Kniphofia PYROMANIA™ 'Backdraft'
Height: 2½-3' | Zones: 5b-9 | Full SunLearn More
Look for Ligularia stenocephala types for their taller flower scapes to add an extra foot of color in midsummer.
Variety Pictured: Ligularia 'Bottle Rocket'
Height: 28-34" | Zones: 4-9 | Part Sun - Part ShadeLearn More
Refined cultivars can be twice as tall as they are wide, perfect for fitting into garden spaces with a narrow footprint. Be sure to plant in a location with plenty of moisture.
Variety Pictured: Lobelia speciosa STARSHIP™ Deep Rose
Height: 20-24" | Zones: 6-10 | Full Sun to Part ShadeLearn More
These are classic garden perennials that provide incredible early summer blooms. Stake or use a Peony ring to keep them upright all season.
Variety Pictured: Paeonia 'Karl Rosenfield
Height: 34" | Zones: 3-8 | Full to Part SunLearn More
These tall, upright native grasses should be a staple of every North American garden. Newer cultivars are more resistant to rust and less likely to open up later in the season.
Variety Pictured: Panicum virgatum PRAIRIE WINDS® 'Totem Pole'
Height: 6' | Zones: 4-9 | Full SunLearn More
Penstemon digitalis types are often taller than they are wide. 'Midnight Masquerade' is one of the best of these with dark burgundy purple leaves and lavender purple flowers.
Variety Pictured: Penstemon 'Midnight Masquerade'
Height: 36-40" | Zones: 3-8 | Full SunLearn More
While this is another genus that hybridizing has really brought down in height, there are still a great many, high quality cultivars out there that still reach 3' tall in the landscape. 'Opalescence' is among the best of these with exceptional powdery mildew resistance, solving a problem that has plagued older cultivars.
Variety Pictured: Phlox paniculata LUMINARY™ 'Opalescence'
Height: 30-32" | Zones: 3-8 | Full SunLearn More
A nice sized native grass with exceptional fall color and winter interest. Stunning when planted in mass or the middle of the border.
Variety Pictured: Schizachyrium scoparium PRAIRIE WINDS® 'Blue Paradise'
Height: 3-3½' | Zones: 3-9 | Full SunLearn More
Not all Veronica are ground hugging. Some varieties, like 'Blue Skywalker', have nice height reaching 2½' tall and keeping a narrow base. 'Blue Skywalker' earns extra points for foliage that stays nice the length of the stem.
Variety Pictured: Veronica 'Blue Skywalker'
Height: 28-30" | Zones: 4-8 | Full to Part SunLearn More