Getting Started with Perennials
Perennials are a varied group of plants that provide years of color and gardening pleasure. One of the key differences between perennials and annuals is that perennials survive winter outdoors then put out new growth and flowers the following season. Annuals, on the other hand, complete their life cycle in a single season. Annuals must be planted every year while perennials are more-or-less permanent in the garden after they are planted.
Another distinguishing characteristic of perennials is that most of them are herbaceous. Simply put, an herbaceous plant is a non-woody plant that dies to the ground each year and reemerges the following season from growth points below the soil. Peonies, iris and daylilies are well-known examples of herbaceous perennials. There are also a few evergreen perennials such as and Cheddar pinks (Dianthus gratianopolitanus), Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis) and Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) which survive winter above ground with green leaves.
Unlike annuals that flower continuously for several months, most perennials bloom for a few weeks. However, if you plan your garden based on bloom sequence, good looking foliage and winter interest, you can enjoy your perennial garden for many months. Perennial gardens are intriguing because they are never static. New plants come into bloom daily providing an ever-changing color and textural tapestry. You will also find that your perennial garden changes from year to year, especially during the first few years of its existence. A newly planted perennial garden looks pretty spare compared to the exuberance of a mature three- or four-year-old garden. And there is always the chance you will rearrange things over the years to emphasize particular color or texture combinations.
No matter where you live or what kind of conditions you garden in, there are hundreds of perennials to choose from. We will show you a few of the best in our Library of Perennials.