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Perennials are very popular and easy to manage in most gardens

Updated on October 15, 2016
Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie loves gardening and spends many hours enjoying it with birds singing in the tree tops it is very relaxing and satisfying in my old age

Lilies are tall perennials ranging in height from 2–6 ft (60–180 cm).

What are Perennials?

Perennials are plants that grow for more than two years. Although trees and shrubs are perennials, the term is used to describe plants that have soft top growth. Those that have foliage that dies down in winter are herbaceous perennials.

Well, known examples are delphiniums, astilbes, and gypsophila. Other perennials such as kniphofias, hellebores and agapanthus are evergreens.

Many perennials have the relatively short flowering period, but often this is made up for by the beauty of their flowers and the quantity produced. Such as the tall varieties of delphinium, are real garden aristocrats.

Every few years perennials should be lifted and divided, this should be done in winter or early spring.

The Best Easy-Care Perennial Flowers

Popular Perennials

Some of the showiest of garden plants are perennials, they add the distinctive charm to gardens large or small. Many have extended the flowering period, if chosen with the care they will complement trees and shrubs and provide a colorful display year round. Whether plants are required for sun or shade, there are perennials suited for the situation.

The following perennials I have grown and recommend with enthusiasm.

Delphinium, Dahlias, Agapanthus, Chrysanthemums, Primulas Aster or Michaelmas Daisy, Peonies, Red Hot Poker.

Hope your garden will be blooming as the seasons go by, as even in the winter you can have shrubs flowering.

How to Plant Perennial Gardens

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Delphinium

Many Delphinium species are cultivated as garden plants also for flower arrangements, with numerous cultivars available. Perennial hybrid delphiniums bear spikes of white, pink, and blue flowers sometimes rising 2 in height while others produce flower spikes of 1 meter or less.

Flower spikes require staking in windy areas. The soil for delphiniums must be rich, free draining and well limed.

With saying this we have plants like these that grow everywhere on the hillsides on poor land, we call them foxgloves, they are poisonous to animals.

Delphiniums displayed at the flower show

Dahlias

Dahlias is a genus of bushy, tuberous, herbaceous perennial, there are at least 36 species of dahlias, they make a striking summer autumn bedding display with colors ranging from white and cream to yellow, orange, pink, crimson and purple. These plants appreciate organic manure in the soil and this should be dug in well before planting out, they thrive in sunny open areas, in well-drained soil. When the plants have made five or six good leaves pinch out the tip to encourage shoots from the axis which will ultimately flower.

Tubers are usually lifted after flowering and stored to dry, I have lost many beautiful plants by not lifting them and the rot in the wet cold winter soil. When replanting the tubers, make sure the danger of frosts is over, as their new shoots will die. A sunny sheltered spot is best.

When they have had their first flowers, I cut the dead flowers off and the second growth of flowers will appear in a very short time, extending their time of beauty.

In recent years I have not cut the dead flowers off, just let them go to seed and they will feed the birds for a while in the early winter.

Dahlia - Dahlstar SunsetPink.

Agapanthus

Agapanthus is a genus of herbaceous perennials that mostly bloom in summer. The leaves are basal and curved, linear, and up to 60 cm (24 in) long, they, are arranged in two rows. The inflorescence is a pseudo-umbel subtended by two large bracts at the apex of a long, erect shape, up to 2 m (6.6 ft) tall.


They have funnel-shaped flowers, in hues of blue to purple, shading to white.
Some hybrids and cultivars have colors not found in wild plants. The ovary is superior. The style is hollow. Bulbs should be placed deeper in the soil and mulched well in the fall. Agapanthus can be propagated by dividing the bulbs or by seeds. The seeds of most varieties are fertile and very easy to grow.

In some regions, one or more species of Agapanthus are invasive plant species.
In New Zealand Agapanthus praecox is classed as an "environmental weed" and calls to have it added to the National Pest Plant Accord have encountered opposition from gardeners.

Agapanthus in pre-bloom stage

Carnations

Around 1996 a company used genetic manipulation to extract certain genes from petunia and snapdragon flowers to produce a blue-mauve carnation, which was commercialized as Moondust. In 1998 a violet carnation called Moonshadow was commercialized. As of 2004 three additional blue-violet/purple varieties have been commercialized. Most carnations are perennials.

Do not manure the soil too heavily as this encourages vegetative growth rather than flowering.
Heavy soils can be improved for carnation growing by the addition of lime and sand.
Carnations respond well to mulching producing better blooms in hot dry weather.
If planted in a green house with the careful attention they can be persuaded to flower all the year round in warmer districts.

Moondust Carnation

How to Stake Tall Perennials

Chrysanthemums

Modern chrysanthemums are more showier than their wild relatives. The flowers occur in various forms and can be daisy-like decorative pompons or buttons. In addition to the traditional yellow, other colors are available, such as white, purple, and red.

Chrysanthemums are not fussy about soil type, but they prefer a well dug, free draining soil with a high humus content, in a sunny open position. If you intend to cut your chrysanthemums to use inside you should pinch off the main shoots once or twice during the growing season to foster a bushy growth habit. Because chrysanthemums are not strong plants, they need to be staked carefully and new growth tied regularly to the stake.

Chrysanthemum show

Primulas

Polyanthus

Perennial primulas bloom mostly during the spring; their flowers can be purple, yellow, red, pink, or white, generally, they prefer filtered sunlight. Many species are adapted to alpine climates. Some flowering forms of (cultivated) Primula are commonly known as polyanthus (P. elatior hybrids) as opposite to primrose (P. vulgaris hybrids).

Polyanthus prefer a moist shady position, they are gross feeders and the bloom spikes will be greatly improved if animal manure is worked between the plants in spring, I find blood and bone good also, sprinkled around the roots. Polyanthus can be propagated by division after flowering or by seed sown in late spring, one year to flower the following season.

Primula Vulgaris

Michaelmas Daisy

Aster, or Michaelmas Daisy?

Asters are valued in the garden for the fact that they provide late summer and autumn color in shades of blue, pink and white. Spring is the best time to divide these plants into rooted pieces, this is necessary if fine flowers are to be produced year after year.


There are miniature forms of the Michaelmas Daisy which grow to no more than 30 cm,(12 ins) and these make attractive borders or rock garden plants. They require a rich soil to produce their best display of flowers.

Aster Amellus

Peonies

Peony or Paeony is a name for plants in the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the flowering plant family Paeoniaceae. Boundaries between species are not clear and estimates of the number of species range from 25 to 40, most are herbaceous perennial plants 1.5 - 5 feet (0.5 - 1.5 meters) tall, but some resemble trees up to 5 - 10 feet (1.5 - 3 meters) tall.

From the Northern Hemisphere, preferring cooler climates. General opinion seems to consider peonies difficult to grow. Any good garden soil, however, can grow and flower peonies provided it is dug over very deeply and well enriched with decayed animal manure. Good drainage is the key factor.

Peonies are gross feeders and every year as soon as the flowers have finished they should be heavily top dressed. They should not be manured in winter and spring when the new growths are appearing as they may be affected by a fungus disease (Botrytis paeonies) which is sometimes called bud rot or bud blast. Coper-base sprays will control this disorder.

They have compound, deeply lobed leaves, and large, often fragrant flowers, ranging from red to white or yellow, in late spring and early summer, flowers do not appear in the first season.

Peony Bush

Peonies can be classified by both plant growth habit and by flower type.
Plant growth types are Herbaceous (Bush), Tree, and Intersectional (Itoh).
Herbaceous peonies die back in winter and regrow in spring, while tree peonies lose their leaves in the winter but leave woody stems which shoot new growth in the spring.
Propagation, if required, is by root division in winter, but it is preferable to leave this slow grower undisturbed.

Peony Bush

What is your favorite perennial plant for display in your garden?

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© 2015 Elsie Hagley

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    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 11 months ago from Arkansas USA

      I've never done much with perennials, but I'm about ready to get started. Your information is very helpful and the photos are inspiring. Thanks, Elsie!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 11 months ago from USA

      I love this time of year for gardens when things are beginning to pop. Haven't grown some of these, but would like to try adding Delphiniums. My peonies are about to bloom ... can't wait to see them. Beautiful photographs Elsie.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 12 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Thanks for this trip through your interesting perennials., Now I need to go out and get some more of them and plant some gladiolas for this year.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 15 months ago from New Zealand

      Colorfulone: Nice to see your smiling face (wishful feeling) if only I could see it.

      You can always think of spring in the middle of winter, it may cheer up a dull winter day.

      All the best for 2016 my friend.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 15 months ago from Minnesota

      Elsie, this is a beautiful hub and well done. A treat to feast on in the middle of January winter weather. I might start getting Spring-Fever!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 19 months ago from New Zealand

      CrisSp: Summer is wonderful, looking forward to it.

      In New Zealand it is the beginning of spring thank goodness, winter has been very wet and cold, the plants are all water-logged and late flowering.

      I like autumn, but the thought of winter approaching would put me off of autumn, which I always like seeing the leaves changing their color.

      Never mind we can't change the seasons so we might as well enjoy them.

      Happy days.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 19 months ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Love dainty daisies! Beautiful hub...I wish summer can be a bit longer so I could actually enjoy more of these beauties. Leaves falling from the trees are slowly filling up my backyard. Well, might as well enjoy the arrival of Fall and the beauties of mums for now.

      Bookmarking this hub for the next planting season.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 19 months ago from New Zealand

      sgbrown: Gardening and seeing all the beautiful flowers gives you great pleasure about nature.

      There are so many flowers available these days so what doesn't grow it's not worth planting them.

      In my garden I used to have beautiful flowers, until the possum population took over, we do set poison and traps (which is against the law) but my gardens are ruin by these pesky rodents, that's the price I pay for living in the high country bush in NZ, so I even enjoy looking at these photos.

      All the best with your gardening. Happy days.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 19 months ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I love all of the flowers you have showcased here! I planted delphiniums in the past, but I think it is just too hot for them here, as they didn't come back. I have chrysanthemums that were given at my mother's funeral over 10 years ago. The will bloom in spring and fall. Wonderful hub and such beautiful flowers!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 21 months ago from New Zealand

      prairieprincess: Finally caught up with your comment, there was a problem which has been fixed on Hubpages.

      Nice to know you are a land girl, really interesting life planning how and where to plant a garden. Hope you write a few articles about it, looking forward to viewing your photos when you get them all growing.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 21 months ago from Canada

      Elsie, great article that I am pinning for future reference. I am a wanna-be gardener with newly acquired land, but little time to garden. I love the idea of perennials because it saves time in the long run. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 21 months ago from New Zealand

      Nadine May: That's a great idea growing in a shade house especially having irrigation, that would be very useful.

      Living near the sea wouldn't help your plants with salt spray sure to burn them in the wind.

      All the best for your future gardening.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 21 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      This was truly an article I love to read. I'm a keen gardener myself but our garden is against the mountain in eight terraces and we are near the sea, so not every plant, shrub or tree I bought and planted have survived. Today I learned the hard way what grows and the rest I will soon grow in a shade house with irrigation on the top of our garden when its complete. Voted up!

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 22 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Thanks for the information I am ready to try anything.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 22 months ago from New Zealand

      Jackie Lynnley: I have not heard of Helleborus, just Google it and I like what I see, must look around and see how it grows in NZ.

      Thanks for sharing a new perennial plant with me.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 22 months ago from The Beautiful South

      I am really into the helleborus the last two summers; I love the evergreen of them and the blooms seem to be forever! They make a garden look so full and they spread so well so we can finally have them everywhere!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 22 months ago from New Zealand

      ladyquitarpicker: Yes bulbs seem to respond better than other plants if you have poor soil.

      Sometimes I add a sprinkling of blood and bone manure to plants, that seems to get good results with poor soil.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 22 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi Elsie, The photos of the flowers are beautiful. I have very poor soil and can not grow a lot of flowers. I found bulbs seem to do best. Enjoyed your hub very much, have a great day. Stella

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 22 months ago from New Zealand

      MizBejabbers: Yes roses are a very popular perennial also.

      I have not had much luck with roses as the pesky possums love them also, they spend their time eating and destroying them, so that is one of the reasons I didn't add them.

      It looks like roses are not very good for you also.

      Happy days gardening.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image
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      Elsie Hagley 22 months ago from New Zealand

      Padmajah Badri: There is nothing more beautiful than a garden in full bloom, it warms the heart. Glad your daughter enjoyed viewing the photos, also nice to see you sharing what people are sharing on the internet, she will be a future writer.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 22 months ago

      Good information and absolutely lovely photos. My favorite perennial is the rose, which you don't list in your quiz. Peonies grow well in our area which is on the cusp of zones 7 and 8. Since roses are so prone to fungi in this wet climate, peonies are a good substitute. Voted up++

    • Padmajah Badri profile image

      Padmajah Badri 22 months ago from India

      A nice write-up.Thanks for publishing this decorative and useful hub.My daughter likes flowers and she was very happy to see the pictures in your Hub .Happy writing !

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