Perennial plants are the workhorses of the garden. They’re technically plants that flower and set seed for two or more seasons. Some perennials are short-lived such as coreopsis, which can live anywhere from three to five years, while others like the bearded iris will have fifteen years of life (or more). Then there’s the peony, which will see 50-100 years in its lifetime.
Perennial plants help make up the bones of the garden by returning year after year without much help from the gardener. They’re not only recurrent bloomers, but they return as a larger specimen compared to the previous year, which fills an area in nicely. This welcome habit makes them a staple in the landscape and indispensable in garden beds, and borders. Don’t overlook perennials’ usefulness as regular performers in containers for the porch or deck.
Types of Perennials
- Tender Perennial – These perennials can’t be overwintered outdoors except in subtropical areas such as Florida and Southern California.
- Hardy Perennial – These perennials tolerate a certain amount of frost depending on your region or zone.
- Herbaceous Perennial – This perennial dies back to the ground at the end of each growing season. Most perennials fall into this class.
- Semi-woody Perennial – This type of perennial has some woody stems but is not as substantial as a true shrub.
- Woody Perennial – This is a shrub or a tree that doesn’t die back to the ground every year.
- Seeds. Some perennials start well from seed. The most obvious reason for this method is that it’s the most inexpensive way to go.
- Your local nursery. The advantage here is that you can see first hand what you are purchasing.
- Mail order nursery. Considering there is no way to actually see the individual plant you are purchasing, this may seem like the least desirable way to purchase perennials. But, mail order nurseries have some of the most unusual plants anywhere. You can get some very unique goodies your neighbors won’t be growing.
Perennial Plants for Sunny Places
The following lists are by no means exhaustive; but they’re easy-keepers and will get anyone started on growing a successful perennial garden.
- Gerbera Daisy or Transvaal Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
- Thrift or Sea Pink (Armeria maritima)
- Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.)
- Pinks (Dianthus)
- Yarrow (Achellia)
- Lamb’s Ears (Stachys)
- Blanket Flower (Gaillardia X grandiflora)
- Artemesia (Artemesia spp.)
- Basket of Gold (Aurinia)
- Angel’s Fishing Pole or Wand Flower (Dierama pulcherrimum)
- Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- Salvia (Salvia spp.)
- Stone Crop (Sedum)
- Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma)
- Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorum)
- Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa)
- Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
- Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)
- *Loose Strife (Lysimachia)
- *Speedwell (Veronica spicata)
- *Primrose (Primula auricula)
(* will tolerate shade)
Perennial Plants for Shady Spaces
- Hosta (Hosta spp.)
- Jacob’s Ladders (Polemonium)
- Bug Banes (Cimicifuga)
- Heuchera (Heuchura spp.)
- Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
- Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica)
- Jove Flower (Lychnis)
- Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)
- Buttercup (Ranunculus aconitifolius)
- Large-Flower Wake Robin (Trillium grandiflorium)
- Gentian (Gentiana asclepiadea)
- Spiderwort (Tradescantia)
- Astible (Astible spp.)
Dianthus photo by photogril7.1.
Coreopsis photo by Tlindenbaum
Salvia photo by izik
Spiderwort photo by Dendroica cerulia
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