What is a Perennial?
Perennial plants are any that last for more than two years in the garden. It comes from the Latin words “per” and “annus” that mean “through” and “year.” We use the term perennial as a label on plants to differentiate them from those plants that only survive one season and are called annuals. That includes plants such as impatiens, geraniums, and lobelia.
Perennials will die back each autumn and remain dormant through the winter months. They will return from their root-stock each spring to provide an excellent foundation to any garden.
Growing Perennial Plants
Perennials are considered the backbone of any good landscaping project. It would be best if you replaced the annuals each year, as in the case of lobelia, but the perennials reappear each year without any additional work or expense. They provide texture, form, and various colors that you can count on year after year.
Bloom's time, lifespan, and culture will vary among perennial plants. Short-lived perennials last only three to four years. This category includes delphinium and lupines. Other varieties can last as long as 15 years, while peonies will continue for a lifetime.
There is no set rule for all perennials. Some require shade, while others need full sun. You'll also find ones such as the gooseneck loosestrife that will overrun the garden. Perennials are beautiful on their own, but they can be accented with annuals. Lobelia has a dainty flower that is perfect as a garden border around perennials.
Types of Perennials
Many people think of garden varieties when they hear someone mention perennials. That would include the daylily. It is a favorite of gardeners for its continuous blooms. Each daylily has many buds that continually open up into beautiful flowers. The flowers only last for one day, but with so many buds, you’ll have non-stop blooms all season. The daylily is often called the perfect perennial because it comes in numerous sizes, shapes, and colors. It’s drought-tolerant and suitable for many forms of landscaping.
Some perennials are found scattered in the wild such as the May Apple. They are found throughout Eastern North America in pastures, woods, and thickets. The May Apple is an herb, but the roots are toxic, so those with experience should only use it. The small white flowers that appear each April and May eventually turn into edible fruit.