No garden plants catch the eye faster than red-blooming perennials. Bringing joy to humans, birds, and beneficial pollinators, alike. As red and yellow are the easiest colors for them to see.
Naturally, single-season annuals can have this effect, too, and seeds can be harvested from these and manually replanted. However, perennials containing red carotene pigments are far more economical and thrive in just about every hardiness zone.
Continue reading as we explore 20 red perennial flowers that bloom all summer, along with effective care tips to keep them returning year after year.
Types of Red-Blooming Perennials
Carotene is the pigment that provides the red hues of blooms and can be found in all manner of flora, from large, flowering, shade trees to climbers and ground covers.
In cold and warm climates, vining plants such as Coral Honeysuckle and Bougainvillea present vibrant and low-maintenance crimson color.
Some of the specimens below are large, upright shrubs covered in scarlet jewels. Others develop red flowers that hover on tall stalks, above small, mounded plants.
While rare, there are some fruiting trees and plants that have red blooms. These include pomegranate trees and a new strawberry cultivar called ‘Berried Treasure’.
20 Varieties of Red Perennial Flowers
While there are countless varieties of red-blooming plants in the world, the following perennials have proven the easiest to grow in a range of hardiness zones. All offering you and your garden vibrant color, heavenly fragrance, and lush foliage throughout the summer.
1. Coreopsis (Coreopsis Verticillata)
‘Red Satin’, ‘Hot Paprika’, and ‘Red Elf’ bloom in glorious shades of red from early summer to the first frost, in zones 4-9.
- Ideal Position: Well-draining, moist soil and full to partial sun.
- Difficulty: Mildew is a common problem when water is allowed to sit on leaves overnight.
- Toxicity: Coreopsis is listed as non-toxic to humans and pets by the ASPCA.
Indigenous to rocky terrains, Coreopsis grows in a clumping mound that reaches 1-3’ tall and wide.
Coreopsis plants need regular watering to encourage healthy root growth and drought tolerance until established. Fertilizing is rarely necessary.
2. Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia)
‘Timothy’, ‘Caulescens’, and ‘Poco Red’ varieties present flashy flowers from March to November, in zones 5-9.
- Ideal Position: Full sun and fertile, well-drained soil.
- Difficulty: Slugs and snails are persistent pests when plants are overwatered.
- Toxicity: Kniphofias are considered non-toxic to people. But, can be harmful to pets, if ingested.
Native to coastal and boggy regions, Kniphofia sends up a botanical, pyrotechnic display of bright, rocket-shaped blooms that soar 5’ high.
Fertilize with a 10-10-10 NPK and prune back to 3”, in early spring. 1” of water per week (including rainfall) will be sufficient.
3. Scarlet Sage (Salvia splendens)
‘Mojave Red’ and ‘Arctic Blaze’ flower in vibrant red hues from late spring to fall, in zones 4-10.
- Ideal Position: Morning shade with afternoon sun and well-draining, moderately acidic soil.
- Difficulty: Rare issues include stem/root rot, powdery mildew, and pests when over-watered or over-fertilized.
- Toxicity: Salvia is listed as non-toxic to small children and pets.
In the wild, Salvia thrives in partially shady, moist locations. These factors nurture a plant with vibrant, pollinator-attracting, tubular flowers on tall, thin stalks.
A mature height of 5’ is possible in consistently moist soil that’s rich in organic matter.
4. Armeria (Armeria pseudarmeria)
‘Ballerina Red’ and ‘Joystick’ varieties develop tufts of red pom-poms from late spring to early fall, in zones 6-9.
- Ideal Position: Full sun, tolerant of poor yet well-draining soils.
- Difficulty: The University of Wisconsin Horticultural Division reports that Armeria is drought tolerant and do not tolerate moist soils that may result in root and stem rot.
- Toxicity: Ameria is listed as non-toxic to pets and people by the USDA.
Sea Thrift (Armeria) thrives in salty, coastal environments and matures to just 12” tall and wide. Water thoroughly during hot, dry weather and deadhead flowers to promote additional flowering.
5. Red Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
‘Sombrero Salsa’, ‘Kismet Red’, and ‘Razzmatazz’ bloom bright red in perennial borders and container gardens throughout summer, in zones 4-9.
- Ideal Position: Morning sun with afternoon shade is preferred to help prevent flower wilt.
- Difficulty: When overwatered, stem rot, powdery mildew, and aster yellows can become issues.
- Toxicity: Safe for people. But, can cause digestive trouble if eaten in large quantities by dogs or cats.
Blooms have skirted petals surrounding a ‘pincushion’ of filaments and pistils. Young plants will mature to 2 – 5’ tall by 2’ wide with thorough watering after planting. Deadhead blooms for prolonged flowering.
6. Dahlia (Dahlia coccinea)
‘Babylon Red’, ‘Chimborazo’, and ‘Spartacus’ varieties dazzle with single and double-petaled blooms from midsummer through fall, in zones 8-11.
- Ideal Position: 6 hours per day and loose, loamy soil.
- Difficulty: In compacted soil, dahlias struggle to absorb water and nutrients.
- Toxicity: While not considered poisonous, consuming dahlias can cause gastrointestinal issues and skin rashes.
Red dahlias display a range of geometric patterns, from single layers of large petals to round, tightly packed sepals. Depending on the variety, these can reach 6’ tall by 3’ wide.
Water regularly and apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer application in early spring.
7. Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
‘Cranberry Crush’, ‘Honeymoon Red’, and ‘Luna’ heat up zones 4-9 with tropical vibes and radiant red flowers from mid to late summer.
- Ideal Position: Full sun and acidic, well-drained soil.
- Difficulty: Overwatering can cause root rot and disease. Partial shade may lead to fewer flowers.
- Toxicity: Not harmful to humans or dogs. May pose a toxic risk to cats, when ingested.
Large flowers with protruding stamen and serrated leaves grow vigorously with weekly watering. A triple 14 NPK with magnesium and iron will boost blooming and bloom time. In early spring, prune woody branches to encourage new growth.
8. Lobelia (Lobelia cardinalis)
‘Vulcan Red’, ‘Starship Scarlet’, and ‘Queen Victoria’ offer vivid, low-profile colors from early to late summer in zones 3-9.
- Ideal Position: Morning sun with afternoon shade and moist, nutrient-rich soil.
- Difficulty: Overwatering and a lock of airflow may lead to fungal infections such as rust and leaf spots.
- Toxicity: Poisonous, if consumed in large quantities. Can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and coma.
Native to wetlands from southeastern Canada to northern Colombia, the Cardinal Flower matures to a compact 9” tall and wide. It needs consistent watering. But, little fertilizing is required, if any.
9. Rhododendron (Rhododendron arboreum)
‘Carmen’, ‘Crimson Pippin’, and ‘Astrid’ are quintessential, red perennials that can bloom all summer, in zones 4-8.
- Ideal Position: Filtered sunlight and acidic soil.
- Difficulty: In poor soil, chlorosis, an iron deficiency, can result in yellowed foliage and flower drop.
- Toxicity: Rhododendrons contain grayanotoxins which can bring about gastrointestinal issues, weakness, discoordination, and weak heart rate.
Originating from eastern Asia to the Himalayas, Rhododendrons grow rapidly and have no definite maturity size. They will continue to grow and expand until pruned. However, their shallow roots require consistent watering and fertilizing in early spring and mid-summer.
10. Red Beebalm (Monarda didyma)
‘Raspberry Wine’ and ‘Redpurple’ are wild bergamot cultivars favored by hummingbirds and pollinators in zones 3-9.
- Ideal Position: Partial shade in hot climates; in cool climates, full sun, and evenly moist, fertile soil.
- Difficulty: Good airflow is key to avoiding powdery mildew and pests.
- Toxicity: Bee balm is not poisonous to humans or animals.
Fragrant beebalm exhibits long, slender petals that open from a tubular base, creating easy access to the pollen and nectar.
Beebalm can grow to 4 ft tall and wide when provided consistent moisture and a 10-10-10 NPK to promote healthy growth and flowering.
11. Clematis (Clematis occidentalis)
‘Charmaine’, ‘Nubia’, and ‘Rebecca’ are climbing perennials that produce brilliant red flowers throughout summer, in zones 4-9.
- Ideal Position: Thrives in full sun and partial shade. Deep soil is needed to accommodate expansive roots.
- Difficulty: Overwatering and compacted soil may result in powdery mildew, root rot, and honey fungus.
- Toxicity: Clematis contains a biochemical called glycoside that is poisonous to people and pets.
This red blooming perennial hails from southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas. 12’ long vines will develop from 1” of water per week, a low-nitrogen NPK in spring and pruning only to remove overgrowth.
12. Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)
‘Burning Hearts’, ‘Red Fountain’, and ‘Valentine’ bloom a vivid red, starting in late spring or early summer, in zones 3-9.
- Ideal Position: Partial shade is best for protection from intense sun.
- Difficulty: Caterpillars and various pests will attack distressed Lamprocapnos plants, draining their sap and causing their demise.
- Toxicity: All parts of the bleeding heart plant are toxic when ingested. The sap may also cause skin irritation.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis can reach 3’ tall and wide. With heart-shaped flowers that dangle from long tendrils. Water weekly and line with compost to increase soil fertility and moisture retention.
13. Asiatic Lilies (Lilium auratum)
‘Tiny Rocket’, ‘Forza Red’, and ‘Cafe Noir’ shine in variant red hues all summer, in zones 3-10,.
- Ideal Position: Full to dappled sun and airy, well-drained soil.
- Difficulty: Bulbs sitting in soggy soil are prone to rot.
- Toxicity: Asiatic lilies are well-known for being highly toxic to cats.
Trumpet flowers open sunward in orange-red, crimson, and deep burgundy atop tall stems, lined with lanceolate leaves.
Repeating lilies grow from bulbs that multiply, over time. Reaching anywhere from 1’-6’, in height.
Apply a 10-10-10 NPK in poor soil and water weekly for healthy nutrient metabolism.
14. Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus)
‘Daniko’, ‘Grand Slam’, and ‘Zenit’ carnations unfurl in luscious red tones, creating bright pops of perennial color for eight full weeks, in zones 7-10.
- Ideal Position: Partial sun and well-draining, fertile soil with a roughly 6.7 pH.
- Difficulty: Spider mites are common problems for distressed plants.
- Toxicity: Carnations are toxic to animals, potentially causing severe gastrointestinal and dermatological symptoms.
Carnations add rich, low-maintenance color with lush, multi-layered blooms that can span 1-2.5” in diameter.
Water weekly and fertilize with a triple 10 fertilizer, when necessary. Withered stems can be pruned back to promote additional blooms.
15. Daylilies (Hemerocallis)
‘Double Pardon Me’, ‘Passion for Red’, and ‘Persian Ruby’ have red perennial flowers that bloom all summer long, in zones 3-9.
- Ideal Position: Full sun and soil with adequate drainage and aeration properties.
- Difficulty: Soggy soil can lead to root rot and other diseases.
- Toxicity: While not poisonous to humans, every part of a Daylily can be lethal to cats.
Originating in Asia, daylilies are famous for their bell-shaped blooms on tall stems that can reach 5’. While fairly drought tolerant, these perform best with weekly watering.
16. Poppies (Papaver rhoeas)
‘Turkenlouis’, ‘Goliath’, and ‘Flanders’ poppies bathe large swathes of land in their bright colors, in zones 4-9, and hold historical significance as symbols of remembrance.
- Ideal Position: Adaptable to most soil types, well-drained soil, and full sun is preferred.
- Difficulty: Wildflowers grown In controlled garden environments are susceptible to aphids and powdery mildew.
- Toxicity: Poppies contain toxic alkaloids that can cause convulsions, asphyxiation, and even death. Not recommended for gardens where small children and pets roam.
Plants typically spread 18” wide. Yet, can produce red flowers that hover 3’ above the foliage. Thorough and infrequent watering is required for deep and drought-tolerant root establishment.
17. Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra)
‘San Diego Red’, ‘Don Fernando’, and ‘Tomato Red’ are climbing red perennials that bloom all summer and can continue through winter, in zones 9-11.
- Ideal Position: Bright sun and nutrient-rich soil.
- Difficulty: Excess moisture on leaves and bracts invite bacterial and fungal lesions to set in.
- Toxicity: Sap is mildly toxic, but can lead to significant illness in pets if consumed in large quantities.
Red-blooming Bougainvillea is well-suited to temperate climates with lush green foliage (on 40 ft vines!) and vibrant, chiffon bracts that encircle tiny, white flowers.
Plants require deep, monthly watering and fertilizing with a balanced NPK in spring and summer.
18. Red Dogwood (Cornus florida var. rubra)
‘Red Beauty’, ‘Ragin’, and ‘Cherokee Brave’ cultivars present blooms in varying shades of red that can last well into summer, in zones 3-8.
- Ideal Position: Morning sun with afternoon shade and well-draining soil.
- Difficulty: Powdery mildew and blight are common with overwatering or increased rainfall.
- Toxicity: Dogwoods are not poisonous but leaves and flowers may cause gastrointestinal issues if eaten.
Red flowering dogwoods can reach 20’ tall by 10‘ wide, at maturity. Presenting distinct, 4-petaled blooms with a center crown of yellow stamens.
Once established, Dogwoods thrive with deep, infrequently watering and a nitrogen-rich NPK, applied just before spring blooming.
19. Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
‘Red Rocket’, ‘Watermelon’ and ‘Arapaho Red’ flower in brilliant red tones throughout summer, 3-10.
- Ideal Position: Direct sun and a variety of well-drained soil types.
- Difficulty: Overwatering and fertilizing may lead to powdery mildew, bacterial and fungal infestations.
- Toxicity: No part of a crepe myrtle has proven toxic to humans or pets.
Hailing from eastern Asia, Crepe myrtles make beautiful backyard trees that can grow to 25’ tall and wide. Large plumes of ruffled flowers hang from outstretched branches and can last for months. Deep watering once or twice per month will keep these trees healthy and blooming.
20. Bottlebrush Tree (Callistemon viminalis)
‘Crimson’, ‘Wallum’, and ‘Little John’ display some of the most unique trees, as pollen-filled stamens are the star attraction, in warm zones 8-11.
- Ideal Position: Full sun and loamy soil.
- Difficulty: Overwatering can lead to twig gall, mildew, root rot, and verticillium wilt.
- Toxicity: ‘Callistemon’ species are considered non-toxic.
Originating in Australia, the Bottlebrush can mature to 25’ tall and wide. Pendulous branches support a ribbon of small white flowers that are protected by long, red, pollen-filled stamens.
With remarkable drought tolerance, this tree species still performs best with weekly watering and a general-purpose NPK, if needed.
Plant Care for Red Blooming Perennials
Luxurious red flowers that return year after year can be found on both trees and shrubs. As well as bulbs, tubers, and rhizomatous plants. Given such botanical diversity, it’s safe to say that quality care will differ among them, too.
Sufficient watering will be based on the biological needs of each and the climate in which they grow.
Some species, such as Armeria and echinacea, have adapted to arid and infertile conditions, preferring deep yet infrequent watering and fertilizing only until mature.
Others, like salvia and dahlias, thrive in consistently moist soil, with easy access to nutrients and an appropriate soil pH for sufficient absorption.
Once established, red-blooming trees and shrubs will often no longer need supplemental fertilizing. For those that do, a low-nitrogen NPK that supports bud and flower production without forcing excessive foliage growth is best.
If you enjoyed this article, here’s a link to 19 White Peonies that you may also enjoy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the easiest red flower to grow?
The clear winner, regardless of your hardiness zone, is the lovely and hardy red geranium (Pelargonium hortorum). Commonly used to fill hanging baskets, pots, and window boxes, these thrive in a wide range of hardiness zones and bloom throughout summer.
What is a red flower plant with no leaves?
The Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata) presents unusual scarlet bracts that are long, and thin and grow in a circular pattern. These blooms bud from tall, leafless stalks. Foliage only emerges to continue necessary photosynthesis after spring blooms have faded.
- ASPCA – Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants List – Coreopsis
- University of Wisconsin – Sea Thrift Armeria Maritima
Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.