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What Are Perennial Flowers?

Updated on February 9, 2018

Perennial Flowers

Perennial flowers are one of the most popular choices for gardeners everywhere. They’re beautiful, relatively easy to care for, and there are a wide array of phenotypes and varieties available. You’ll see the more popular kinds of perennials, such as lilies, coneflowers, forget-me-nots, daisies, and lavender, in gardens everywhere across the world.

Perennial coneflowers are attractive to pollinators such as this butterfly.
Perennial coneflowers are attractive to pollinators such as this butterfly. | Source

What Are Perennial Flowers?

Perennials are plants that come back every year. Unlike annuals and biennials, perennial flowers will appear to die every winter and then bloom again the following spring or summer. This process will repeat for at least three years, depending on the kind of perennial. Many will continue to bloom indefinitely, as long as they’re properly cared for. This makes them a favorite for home gardeners. You only need to plant them once, and they’ll come back every year. This makes for beautiful and easy-to-care-for gardens.

What Kinds of Perennials Are There?

There are many, many kinds of perennial flowers out there. There are dozens of perennial plants, all with different kinds of flowers, different colors, and different ideal growing conditions. If you’re thinking about planting perennial flowers, it’s a good idea to learn a bit about the different kinds out there. One of the biggest distinctions between perennial flowers is what happens to their leaves when they enter a dormant state in the winter. Herbaceous perennial flowers have leaves that die when the weather gets cold, while evergreen perennials maintain their leaves throughout all the seasons. There are also flowering perennial vines and bulbous perennials, such as lilies, that store energy in a bulb at their base. In addition to these broad categories, there are differences such as which perennials grow in the sun or grow in partial shade.

How Can I Garden With Perennials?

In order to get the most out of your perennials, you’ll need some guidance on how to garden with them. You need to find out what kind of perennials grow well in your environment, including information about geographical climates and sun vs. shade. You’ll also want to find ideas about which perennials grow well together, which make great border flowers, which are the easiest to grow, which are the hardiest, etc.

Perennial Gardening

What’s not to love about sweet herbaceous or glorious woody perennials? These ever-growing plants are the largest group of the plant kingdom and can be grown in various environments. A successful perennial garden will include an array of plants in various textures, sizes, shapes and colors.

Proper perennial gardening is essential to the livelihood of your plants. To ensure that your plants gloriously return year after year, be sure to prepare your soil and handle plants carefully so that you do not hinder their growth. Perennials cannot tolerate much stress to its roots system. Each year as the plant dies off, a new plant must grow from its root system the following year so it is imperative that the root system remain strong and healthy.

Deciding how to plant your perennials will help eliminate the need to move your plants later, risking damage to the roots. Pay close attention to the roots of your starter plant to determine how it will grow over time; roots that are fibrous for instance should be spread outwardly from the plant to allow it to reach for water and nutrients.

When planting, you may want to choose an organic or nutrient-rich soil and mulch. This will help enrich the soil and provide improved growing conditions for your perennials. Mulch will keep your perennials from absorbing too much water and prevent and moderate the temperature of your soil, not to mention the aesthetic value it will add to your garden. Make sure that you don't heap soil or mulch up around the stem. If you do, water will drain off instead of sinking in, and the stem could develop rot through overheating.

An average of 1-inch of water per week is ideal for your new perennial garden however; seasonal changes and changes in the weather may mean that you need to readjust your watering schedule. Watering needs will also be dependent on the type of soil you use to plant your perennials. For example, plants grow in sandier types of soil may require more water than heavier or clay-like soils.

Maintaining your perennial garden includes watching for weeds and pests. Sometimes differentiating between your plants and the actual weed may be difficult, especially if your perennials have yet to bloom. Usually, weeds will grow near the crown of the plants and in areas where you may have missed adding mulch. Try to remove weeds by their stem and cover the area with mulch to prevent any further seeds from growing.

You’ll also want to make sure that you properly fertilize your plants to ensure that their foliage will grow plentiful. Before winter, you will want to prepare your plants as they die off with drops in temperature. It would be ideal to add a slow-release fertilizer to your soil and cover with organic material such as straw or more mulch. This will protect your perennials throughout the winter from harsh weather and allow your plants to continuously grow and thrive year after year.

© 2015 Tyler Norwood

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