Perennials that wake up late

As spring begins in our garden, we greet every new sprout with joy as we search for signs of life in our beds and borders. It's also the time of year when patience can be required—perennials, shrubs, and bulbs do not all emerge simultaneously. We all kind of know that, but it's easy to forget in our eagerness.  The message is: don't despair just yet if a plant is late to the party. It could very well still be sleeping, not dead.

Here are some of the perennials and shrubs we've found to be the last to wake up:

  • Leadwort (Ceratostigma)
  • Milkweed (Asclepias)
  • False Indigo (Baptisia)
  • Ferns
  • Balloon Flower (Platycodon)
  • and Hibiscus, including the shrub, Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus).

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria) can be tardy the first year after planting. Clematis is also sometimes poky in its first spring after planting.

Lady's Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium), Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum) and False Solomon's Seal (Smilacina) sometimes don't appear above ground at all the first year after planting.

If it's been a very wet winter, Astilboides and Darmera can be painfully slow. 

Among the bulbs, Daffodils and Lilies can be slow in their first spring after planting.

Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) is among the last shrubs to leaf out. Wisteria and Trumpet Creeper (Campsis) are also slow. Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle,' Caryopteris, and Buddleia may die back to the ground—prune off the deadwood, and the plants will break from the stubs that remain.