Many avid gardeners know the key secret to a beautiful garden lies in planting a variety of perennial plants. The wonderful feature of perennials is that you simply need to plant them once and they will continue to bloom year after year.

Different perennial plants bloom at different times during the year. So, with a little planning and forethought, you can create a unique and dynamic garden that will delight you and everyone else no matter the season or temperature. Get creative and employ a range of colors, heights, and shapes to give your garden a creative edge above others.

perennial plants

What Are Perennial Plants?

Perennial plants transition from a vegetative state to a flowering state repeatedly, as opposed to annual plants which only complete the transition once before dying off. You can plant perennials once and then enjoy them for at least several years. Therefore, they can be a better choice for gardening economically since you are getting more bang for your buck. The technical definition of a perennial plant is that they live for at least three years. But some can live much longer. An example of a long living plant are peonies, which can live for over 100 years.

The lack of a need to replant each year will also save you time and energy as well. Another great feature of perennial plants is their ability to thrive in a wide variety of climates. It is important to note, however, that some perennials that flower repeatedly throughout the year in warmer climates may only do so once a year. But this happens in colder, less favorable climates.

With such a wide variety and easy accessibility to purchasing these plants, it is no wonder why they continue to be among the most popular choice in the gardens of amateur gardeners and professional horticulturists alike.

Main Varieties of Perennial Plants

Depending on what type of garden you are cultivating, there are a plethora of perennial plants to pick from. People usually think of herbaceous, showy flowers when discussing perennials. But there are also many other varieties of plant life that fall under this category, including trees, shrubs, and vegetables.

Perennials to Consider

  • Shade loving Bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) and Pacific coast iris (Iris douglasiana) are drought tolerant.
  • Sun loving Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) and Red yarrow (Achillea millefolium Paprika) are great for sunny areas.
  • To add texture to your garden, try artemisia (Artemisia ludoviciana Valerie Finnis).
  • For some pops of color look into Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm) or California fuchsia (Zauschneria californica Bert’s Bluff), which can help attract wildlife to your garden.
  • Drought tolerant Siberian Pea-tree (Caragana arborescens) is a shrub that produces legumes and fragrant flowers which attract bees.
  • Sun loving shrub Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) gives off a honey scented fragrance that is irresistible to butterflies. They will then love the nectar filled flowers.
  • Drought and heat tolerant Blanket flower (Gaillardia) provides lasting, colorful wildflowers reminiscent of Mexican blankets.
  • Sun friendly Peony (Paeonia) comes in many varieties and colors, with many surviving longer than most humans on little to no care.
  • Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum) is one of the most popular perennial ornamental grasses, prefers warmer climates, and has soft, fuzzy, purple hued blooms.

How to Grow Perennial Plants in Your Garden

The key to successful growth of perennial plants is in research and planning. When deciding which to include in your garden you should take your climate, soil, budget, location, and personal taste into account.

For example, let’s take a bright color loving lady in southern Arizona with a smaller budget. She will have very different options to select from as opposed to a gentleman in northern Michigan who prefers muted tones and ornamental grasses.

Planting Perennials

If you will be growing your perennial plants from seeds, you will need to use a different method than you would if using annual plant seeds. The seeds of different perennials have been conditioned to go through specific conditions during germination. This means you must attempt to replicate these conditions.

  • So you need to chill the seeds first if they’re from a colder region plant like Echinaceas, or perhaps or soaking others that are from warmer areas like rosemary.
  • Once again this is where your research will truly benefit you. You’ll need to plant your seeds in a good soil mix and put them in a warm place to germinate.
  • Germination rates for perennials are much slower and lower than for annuals, where only half of the seeds might germinate. Since seedling growth rate is also slower than annuals, you’ll need to start the process at least 10 to 12 weeks before your frost date.

Choosing the Right Place

  • The next step involves transferring your now ready seedling to your garden or if you have instead decided to purchase seedlings, you should plant them as soon as you receive them.
  • Try to choose an area of your garden where water drains after a rainfall. You will need to ensure your soil meets the specific needs of the plants, and add peat moss or compost as needed.
  • Next dig each plant hole slightly larger than the root ball. The plant crown should be even with or slightly below the surrounding area. It is important to fill the area in around the roots with fine soil and ensure that you leave a slightly depressed area around each plant to catch and hold water.
  • Add approximately a quart of water to the depressed area, let it soak in, and then water again.
  • After the late fall freeze you can apply a mulch around your perennial clumps. This way, you will remove in spring before growth begins.

spring daisy

Seasonal Care for Perennials

After your perennial plants start growing in the spring, you can add mulch to the soil around them. But be careful not to cover crowns. Taller perennial plants can be staked to prevent wind damage. After blooming remember to prune if necessary and apply a slow release fertilizer. This will ensure healthy growth and a good bloom for the next year.

If your plants die back to roots in fall remember to cut the stems back to 3 to 4 inches above crowns. This will send up new growth in the spring. After 2 to 3 years many perennials can be divided. This is done to prevent overcrowding and ensure your plants stay healthy and happy.

Coloring Your Garden

Perennial plants are a perfect addition to any garden. Before planting them, you will need to research first and formulate a plan when deciding what plants to utilize. But the hard work and commitment will pay off. This will happen in the form of an aesthetically pleasing, interesting garden that you can enjoy for years and years to come.

No matter what budget, climate, or personal preferences a gardener has there is always a choice when it comes to these plants. With so many plant varieties available, there is no doubt that perennial plants will be a perfect addition to your garden.

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