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What is a Perennial Plant

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                                                       Image By J Kulk Grandpasgreenthumb

In this article I will be discussing the question ‘What is a Perennial Plant’.

Basically a Perennial plant is any plant, be it a shrub, bulb, fiber rooted variety or your average garden flower, that live longer than two years. When I discuss perennials in this article I will be talking about those plants that combine the beauty of permanent shrubs, with the wonderment of the last vast amount of wild flowers that come from all over the planet.

Many of these wild flowers in particular, have been either hybridized or selectively breed to become those wonderful species of various plants that now adorn peoples gardens all over the world.

Some of my favorite species, from the thousands available to us, include plants such as salvias, phlox, delphiniums, lupins,petunias, through to alstroemerias, asters, dianthus, chrysanthemums, and other members of the daisy family.

There are so many species that the list is endless, and it would be far to difficult for me to mention them all here.

Every day you can see so many of these incredible varieties in our own gardens, in the gardens in magazine or those that are highlighted on television shows. In most cases they have become a common site in the borders of beautiful gardens everywhere.

Where Should we place these wonderful plants?

                                                        Image By J Kulk Grandpasgreenthumb

Ideally we would place them in front of the smaller bushes and along the edges or borders of the garden beds.

But placement depends on several variables.

1). The size of the plant .

In most cases the smaller plants, as mentioned, would go in the front of taller varieties. However, Some more shrubby perennials, such as the larger flowering Salvias, are much better suited in the middle or back of the bed. Now, this isn’t always the case, sometimes in landscape design people like to Occasionally place plants randomly. Which can be very effective if done correctly.

However, it is a style of gardening that is better left to the experts. As I am directing my blogs towards beginner gardeners I prefer to keep design a bit simpler, but still magnificent.

Therefore as far as blog is concerned, I will keep it simple and stick with the most obvious garden designs where some sort of balance is desired.

Can you imagine planting some gorgeous modern double petunias, Daylilies and dianthus, in front of a group of perennial bushes such as salvias or Rhododendrons? The effect could be absolutely breathtaking.

2). Color of the flowers.

Image by J Kulk   grandpasgreenthumb

There are several ways to approach color in the garden. You can go for a single color, Two or three color combinations, or a more random selection. I personally prefer the random style because I find it exciting each time a new plant begins to flower.

Other people may like to have a completely pink garden, or a pink and white one. These colors are often found in cottage gardens.

Some people prefer strong color tones, so they may go more for the oranges, reds, dark blue to black or even brown flowers.

What ever your preference is, keep it uniform in your garden. That is, if you go random than make sure your whole garden is random. If you like one or two color,s than try to find a balance with them. Pinks and whites for example look far better when mixed or layered in a garden than if you were to have one half of your area pink, and the other white.

Having said that, if you are more advanced and into creating rooms within your garden, than it’s fine to have one pink room and one white room or any other colors you prefer.

Once again, I have to say that I’m not going into depth with any particular garden design at this stage.

                                       Image by J Kulk Grandpasgreenthumb

Where will I get my Perennials?

As I suggest in all my blogs, if you are ready to fill your garden with some gorgeous plants, the best place to find these are in your local garden centers.

These people are experts in gardening and can suggest plants that would suit and thrive in your area.

You are ready to plant, . Now What?

At this stage you will need to prepare your soil, much the same way as I have discussed in other blogs.

The very first thing to do is to Add copious amounts of manure and / or compost to the soil. Doing this will give your plants the initial boast they need .

The key to growing healthy perennials in your garden is to make sure your soil is also healthy.

Once you have added the right amount of compost and manure you will need to complete a soil test to check the pH of the soil.

It will be worth your time to purchase a simple kit that can help you determine what pH your soil is.

==>If you would like to check out a PH checking kit, click here<==

Some plants like a high pH, or alkaline soil, while others thrive on a low-level or acidic type, and yet others prefer a medium level, or neutral level.

When you purchase your plants from your local garden Centre, the experts there will be able to advise you as to exactly what pH levels are required for each variety.

For example, a lavender plant would require fairly alkaline soil of around 7 to 8 pH. You can purchase either a lime product or Dolomite to adjust your soil levels higher if you have an acidic soil type.

Whereas members of the Rhododendron family prefer an acidic soil. If the soil is too Alkaline the plants will develop yellowish leaves and stunted growth.

Different Perennials have different Habits?

Some perennial plants die back every autumn and winter, their roots remain active underground and they will return during the spring. These types of plants are known as herbaceous perennials.

Examples of these herbaceous varieties include:

 

1). Some Daisies.

2). Some varieties of Salvia.

3). Hostas

4). Some fern types

5). Some Hemerocallis, or Daylily, plants are dormant .

6). Bearded Iris.

7). Primula.

8). Candytuft. Although it is a woody plant it can be treated as a herbaceous perrenial

 

Image by PollyDot from Pixabay

 

And many more.

Those perennials that grow all year in warmer climatic zones are known as Evergreen plants.

Examples of evergreen types include:

1). Daphne.

2). Pentas.

3). Geraniums.

4). Sweet Violets

5). Daylilies (hemerocallis).

6). Ferns.

7). Salvia

And of course, lots more.

Some Plants can do both.

A good example of these would be Daylilies. As mentioned, they come in either Dormant, semi dormant or evergreen species.

Where the particular plant originates from has obviously got a lot to do with its characteristics.

When to Divide Plants?

Most herbaceous perennial plants can the divided once a year, normally during early autumn in colder climates. Completing the task at this time of the year gives the plant enough time for the roots to develop before the onset of colder weather.

For milder or warmer climates you can divide plants during late winter or early spring.

Many perennials need to be divided either once a year or up to every three years in order for them to maintain vigor and keep there flower production at a high level.

How you divide perennials depends on particular plant you’re working with. For example if we were to divide a clump of daylilies, which are classified as Hardy fiber rooted perennials, we can simply dig out the clump and cut it into smaller portions.

Some people like to cut the clump up into groups of two to three plants and than replant each smaller clump back into the garden or give some away to friends.

In my garden I simply put a sharp spade through the clump and cut it into quarters. I than cut off the ends of all the leaves, leaving about 3 to four inches of greenery. I also leave one quarter of the plant where it was situated and replant the others.

Each clump is than given a generous amount of manure and compost. I prefer sheep manure that comes from the shearing sheds. This sort is less likely to be affected by the weather, thereby retaining all the special NPK macro nutrients.

With plants that have a rhizome you need to the more careful where you cut the clump. Make sure each rhizome has at least two to three eyes, or shoots, from which to produce new growth. These plants are far better to be dug out as a complete clump and prise apart with the help of a sharp knife.

Each part can than have the Leaves cut off before replanting somewhere in your garden. Or you may want to give some away.

There are other perennials that should never be divided. Babies breath is an example of this.

Many of the shrub type perennials are also best left where they are in warmer climates, but can easily be moved in cooler ones. Simply undertake this job in autumn, when the heat of summer is gone, but the plants still have enough time to stabilize before winter.

In warmer areas replanting can be a bit more difficult. If you really believe you need to do this than dig out the plant in early spring. Leave as much of the root ball intact as you possibly can. Cut the foliage back by about half, so that the plant doesn’t lose too much water from transpiration through its leaves.

Make sure the hole you plant it in is deep enough for the root ball, the top of the root ball should be only just below the surface of the soil.

Going Back to the Divisions:

Image by bluebudgie from Pixabay

 

Now that you have divided your plants you can begin to replant them throughout the garden.

Dig holes big enough to accommodate all the root ball.

With plants search as daylilies you should wash off all the soil before planting out. In this case you need 2 create a mound in the hole and place your plant on the mound with the roots placed down the sides of the mound. You can than back fill the hole until the soil level is at the crown of the plant.

rhizomes should be placed in a hole with the eyes facing upwards. Different plants need to be buried at different depths. It’s far better to be sure than sorry so I would look up the requirements for each plant.

I will have an article coming out soon that describes different perennial plants and how you should plant them.

Watering in:-

Once you have completed the task of planting your perennials you will need to water them in.

Soak the plants deeply with a solution of half strength seaweed fertilizer. This will help them to develop a strong root system.

Repeat the watering in about 2 to 4 days, depending on weather conditions, with just normal water. If you received heavy rainfall in the meantime than don’t continue watering them.

In hot and dry conditions you will need to continue water the plants for around 2 months.

Mulching:-

It is now time to mulch around all your plants. Applying mulch to your garden, and in particular around your perennials, will help to conserve soil moisture and give your plants a better chance of surviving over the hotter summer months. It will also act as a weed suppressant.

Make sure you don’t place the mulch too close to the crown or stem of your plants. This could cause root rot or other fungal diseases.

Fertilizing:

Because I like to use plenty of organic matter such as compost, manures and mulches around my plants I prefer not to use any fertilizers until they are established and show signs of growth, usually a couple of months after planting. . I will than use one of the organic slow release fertilizers available. You can purchase these from any good garden center.

That’s about it:

Gardening can be a very pleasurable experience if you take a few precautions and learn to understand the needs of your plants. Perennials of all kinds can turn an ordinary garden into an oasis. There are so many species available for purchase today that the array of color, form and type is simply amazing.

I have only touched on a few examples here today but if you stick to the main principles you can’t really go wrong, and remember, if in doubt ask your local garden center.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Happy Gardening. Jim

==>If you would like to read one of my other informative articles, simply click here<==

Jim Kulk

51 Comments

  1. We will be moving probably next spring and I’ve been busy this fall digging up and replanting some of my perennial plants at a property we have.  I love growing perennials because they come back every year and they are plants that neighbors and friends tend to share when they get to big or need thinning out.

    I also find that in my garden I seem to have micro climates so I’ve often in the past moved a plant that was not doing so well in one area to another and been pleasantly surprised to see the difference in growth.

    Great article and website.  I’ll be back

    • Thank you for your comments. I hope your move goes well and all your perennials survive the move as well. All the best. Jim

  2. Thanks for the great article about perennial plants. These are my favorite types of plants as I like to be able to enjoy the plants for more than one season / year. Great suggestion to source the plants from local nurseries and garden centers, as things purchased online or in another area may not do well at your own home / location. The information about the best time to divide plants was completely new to me — thank you so much for including that information!!

    • Thank you Aly. It’s always great to know that someone has learned something new from one of my articles. Jim

  3. Very interesting and well explained post. I am planting a garden as well, not just with flowers, but I’m also planting trees and vegetable plants. I added flowers, because they are so beautiful and they attract bees. I still have to learn more about flowers. I am good with plants and trees, but flowers seem to require extra care, I think, because I haven’t managed to take good care of them. Your post has given me great tips on what to do, and the information about soil was also new to me, and it makes perfec sense. I live in a hot area which makes it difficult for some flowers to survive, but I am glad that you listed flowers that can live in warm weather. I will have a look at that and make sure I get those flowers for my garden.

    Thanks for this excellent post!

  4. This is a really Great and helpful review I must confess…I have started to explore the farming world  for a long while now and I think this is the only kind of plant I haven’t tried or Even have enough knowledge about . this is why I am really grateful to you for taking your time to carefully give a good explanation on perennial plants. The guidelines are straightforward and easy to relate it and I have to try them out as soon as I can. Thanks one more

  5. You describe very detailed, yet very beginner friendly article about perennial plants. I have a wonderfully Rhododendrons at my yard as well. And to my lacking of green thumbs it has been a live several years. It’s something special to have some wonderful plants to rest the eyes on. Luckily for me my fiancee has some degree of green thumbs. I enjoyed reading your blog about gardening. 

    • Hi Fred. I’m glad you enjoyed my article. You to can have a green thumb in gardening. Check out one of my early blogs on the Myth of having to have a green thumb. Jim

  6. I’m not a very big fan of agriculture related stuffs but this one really captivated my attention. I Really enjoyed reading through this article and I’ve learnt a couple of things about perennial plant. I really love the pictures od the plants, they are beautiful and lovely. This is really educating and I’ll use the guide on these perennial plant to perform a trial. I read an article that stated that Sim of these plants have effect on human health but it wasn’t explained in it, please how true is this and if true, what are these effects??

    • There are a number of plants can can have an affect on the health of the individual, but most perennials are quite save to plant, especially those that I’ve mentioned. Jim

  7. Hey Jim, I know know what a Perennial Plant is, my wife will be impressed. I have never had much of a green thumb but as I get older I’m finding gardening more and more relaxing. I have learnt so much from this article, I never knew plants were so sensitive to the pH in the soil, and that they have a specific time that it’s better to divide them in. Mind blown Jim

    • Thank you Marvin. It’s fantastic to know that you have learned something new. I hope you enjoy your new found passion. Jim

  8. Thanks for this detailed guide to perennial plants. It is such a broad type that there are endless ways to add these to your outside areas depending on what the goal may be for the look and of course the space that you have available. I came away anxious to build on what we already have in our garden area using some of the tips that you have provided.

    My next trip to the home garden shop which is nearby is going to be an eventful one, as I am looking to add at least 3-4 more perennials to our garden area. The local specialist will be able to tell me what is possible in the hot area of Dubai, and of course, he will also have what he recommends I am sure. Great post!

  9. Perenial plants are the reason why gardens always feel like home because they add such beautification that is so rear to see in any other place. Though the process involved in their nurturing is not really a pleasurable experience as they require serious work before becoming that elegant and flamboyantly displayed plant. Thanks for sharing with us everything that has to do with planting a perennial and I’m actually considering planting it this season. Thanks Jim

    • Thank you for reading my article. I;m positive that you will get a lot of pleasure from adding plants to your garden. Especially perennials. Jim

  10. The idea of a perennial plant sounds good to me. I fell I can try it out because I have been thinking of it for a while now. Its very good that you can help with so much information on the different types of them. I’ll definitely check them out at the local plant store. This is a very nicely written post. I would like to ask what kind of fertiliser is the best for the plants.

    • Hi Henderson. I’m glad you liked my article. It’s always best to add organic fertilizers that contain all the minerals and elements needed for plant growth. I like to use slow release organic pellet types that are usually mad from animal manures with added minerals. All the best. Jim

  11. I like the idea of planting perennial plants. Because I will not have to replant for each season. And it is always beautiful to see them bring their beautiful colors in spring. I know that planting a whole garden with only the perennial plants can be seen as being lazy but I would like to have a beautiful garden with less maintenance work or expenses. And if I can already take replanting for two years out of the equation, it will really be helpful. Also, the perennial plants come in different varieties and colors, so the garden will not be monochrome.

    Thanks

    • Hi Adyn. Perennials come in so many shapes and sizes, and there are so many varieties available ,that it is quite feasible to construct your garden completely with only them. All the best. Jim

  12. Great article and one my wife will definitely love as she is crazy about anything that has to do with flowers and how to take care of them. We have in our balcony a wide variety of flowers but being able to live more than 2 years is definitely a plus as changing them is a process that she doesn’t want to do very often. I will bookmark your page for her future reference. Thanks again!

  13. Wow, this is a very good one. Its not the first time I’m seeing about perennial plants. A friend has a perennial garden and the way he arranged it is so awesome thats why I have to agree that the colours are very important when arranging the perennial. I might consider doing it in my home though. Is it okay to grow them in containers?

    • Hi Henderson. There is such a diversity among perennials that you will find plants for every occasion. There are literally hundreds of species available that would do well in container plants. Jim

  14. I am coming to realise that there is more to gardening than meets the eye. I’ve been through a few of your articles and they are giving me a greater understanding of what is required, though for me, as a beginner, it can be a bit overwhelming. My wife has been the one to tend to the fornt garden over the past years. I’ve done done the grunt work round the back, mowing, cutting back and generally tidying up what has primarily been a play area for the last fifteen years.

    The front is different, as there are two decent size beds, one of which is raised. Perennials, to me, seem to be an ideal plant, as after the initial planting, they would seem to be relatively low maintenance. Colour wise, we are defintitely on the ‘random’ side of things. Saying that, we also have four ‘half-barrels’ that do have more of a theme running through them, of one or two colours.

    This year I think I will be taking your advice and dividing some of the larger ones, now I will be able to identify them better. We have some larger shrubs which could do with being reduced and then an assortment of plants being placed close by. The soil there is very rich as it is more of a raised bed and has been filled over the years with bags of compost. When tended to properly it does set the drive way off quite nicely. Your article will help improve upon that.

    • Thank you for reading my article Twack. Perennials can give you just about anything you desire in a garden, structure, color, there great for containers, they come in all shapes and sizes. and the list goes on. I love that you keep coming back here to learn more about gardening. All the best my friend. Jim

  15. Good Morning Jim,

    I love gardening and have been pottering since I started my farm adventure in 1981.

    As I live in the south of Spain one needs a garden which adapts well to a hot climate. Over the years I have seen quite a big change in the seasons so that is influencing nature as well.

    My whole garden which is a pretty jungle version of a garden only has Perennials. There might be even many generations of one type of plant. If the plant or bush admits I will take cuttings and make new plants, a never-ending cycle.

    I remember somebody gave me a poinsettia for Chrismas in the early 1980s. I planted it in the garden and over the years it has grown into a tree which is pruned in January every year. It is huge and beautiful and some years I use the photo for my Christmas card.

    There is a huge and, I would call it, antique compost hill so there is always good nourishing soil available for newcomers. I must say though that after so many years the garden is kind of full.

    I have a small rose bed which also contains different Dutch bulbs. I enjoy seeing them come up early in the year. These last winters were very mild with a midday temperature of 20C. Nature is getting confused but with time will adapt to it. The big worry is the lack of water as then the more tender varieties will not survive.

    Whenever we do the big cleaning and organizing of the garden I might put leftovers or any baby trees I discover in small pots. They will grow here and then probably will land in the garden of friends.  At the moment I have baby cypress and some Mulberry.

    Your article has a lot of helpful tips and is a treasure trove for those who start first time with their own garden. I enjoyed reading your article and seeing those lovely photographs.

    Regards, Taetske

    • Thank you Taetske. My father and mother immigrated from Australia to the Netherlands, I was only little so I don’t remember to much. He brought tulip bulbs here , these bulbs adapted well and would fill the gardens and fields around us with color every spring. They are one of the more magnificent perennial bulbs. Jim

  16. Hi Jim 

    Thanks for sharing such an important and amazing post with us about the perennial plant. Perennial plant is a plant which lives for the long time at least moor than two years. We see so many of these incredible varieties in our own gardens. In this review you have where should we place these wonderful plants. By reading your post I understood that different perennials have different habits. I have known some information about perennial plant which were really unknown to me.. 

    Thanks again. I’ll share this post with my friends and family. 

    • Thank you for reading Monalisha , and thanks for sharing it. There is such a diversity of color and type among the perennial plants that there are varieties available that are suitable for any garden in any situation all over the world. Jim

  17. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for this post about the perennial plants with details. I like to expect the random colors for my chosen plants which give me exciting and something to wait for, so I am glad that you are the same type! I like the blue flowers in the middle of this post, and it would be very nice you could let me know the plant name. 🙂  Another question is where do you get the sheep manure from shearing sheds? It is the first time I have this idea, would love to hear from you soon!

    • Hi Matt. The Iris picture that you see in my blog is the bearded version and it prefers cold to temperate climates. If you Google bearded Irish’s you will find heaps of online mail order nursery’s that sell them.  The sheep manure is sourced from sheep properties around Australia. But you can also purchase it bagged from your local garden store. Jim

  18. I love gardening especially container garden. It make me do more research on how my vegetables can grow well without any hinderance. I started nourishing this idea ever since I finished my gardening project in the university. Am glad I learn alot from the project. I have not planted flower on my own before but I do watch how my uncle do take care of his perennial flowers. It wasn’t an easy job anyways. I also want to start planting flowers in my apartment. Am glad I met a review that can be part of the materials that will guide me through it. Am seeing many beautiful perennial flowers in here. I don’t know this type of plant also need mulching. I thought it is only tubers that need that .

    • Hi Stella. In outside gardens it’s wise to mulch all plants. There are many perennials that are suitable to grow in containers. I hope to do a blog about these soon. Jim

  19. Thanks for the tips and advice: I have a number of perennials, geraniums, lavender and scabious which I’m about to start dividing up. Is it okay to divide them if they are still flowering, which they do here until early December, or would it be best to wait until spring? Also, I have a salvia which I was given as a present last year. It’s grown really well so I’m wondering whether that can that be divided or should I take cuttings? Thank you!

    • Hi. I would never divide any plant while it is flowering , better to leave it until spring. Whether or not you can decide Salvia depends on the species, there are hundreds of them. It would probably be easier to simply take cuttings. All the best . Jim

  20. Hi! I have been looking for an answer to the question: What is a perennial plant? And you have given ample answer. I also learnt additional aspects such as what we should consider when choosing placement. Size and color are important. I have already been planning to reorganize my garden and I have come across your post in a very timely manner.

    Thank you very much!

    • Thank you Henry. I hope you have fun reconstructing your garden. All the best. Jim

  21. Hello Jim; Grandpasgreenthumb is a great story, to include many plants. The potted plants, as well as those in the ground, are fantastic! Just to look at them remind me of how life transmits.

     Not only human beings enjoy a healthy life, but also plants and animals. Those plants look so much alive, giving a natural invitation to their habitat. Wow!  

    The plant near the bottom of the post, what is its name? I am searching to know the name of that plant for a while now. Did you plant those plants yourself?

    DorcasW

    • Thank you for reading my article Dorcas, and thank you also for the positive comments. I’ll have to go and have a look at that picture you’re talking about as I’m not sure which one you mean. All the best. Jim

  22. Thank you so much for this educational post on perennial plants. I am entirely ignorant about plants, flowers, and gardening, but this post provided me with a better understanding and information on this exciting topic, and l appreciate this information and will share with a friend who is into gardening and planting of flowers among others. Thanks.

    • Hi Marie. It’s fantastic to know that my blog on perennials has sparked your interest in plants. I hope your friend enjoys it as well.. Jim

  23. Hi Jim,

         Thanks for this informative post!  I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea what a perineal was.  I figured an annual was something that bloomed once a year but that’s about it.

    I appreciate the details you’ve provided here and am now thinking about locations and plant choices.

    I’m going to have to pick up some seaweed fertilizer too.

    Thanks again,

         Scott

    • Thanks Scott. Gardening is a fantastic fun past time. I’m glad you enjoyed my article. Jim

  24. Hello Jim,

    This is a very informative article about perennial plants and how to grow and maintain their beauty for a long time. I don’t have much experience in gardening. So I found that knowing about the right pH value, importance of dividing plants and that there are some plants that we should not divide like Babies breath. I personally loved to grow different colors of wild flowers in my garden. So I will read your other articles as well as get advices from the local garden center when I came across some problems in the future.

  25. Gardening is a fascinating occupation,I just love the thousands of varieties of plants with their myriads of colors, and shapes,although I am a total ignoramus even to their names,as well as their types,except for roses.

    What is great, is helping my wife or daughter,setting out the garden with different plants,in arrangements shaped for each plant with the tall ones and bushes at the back and the small colorful ones in front,giving a sloping effect towards the back.

    I like to see a variety,of different species giving differing coloring and shapes, in the garden,but I don’t know much about the technical side of gardening except that you need to have manure,and topsoil added to prepare the soil for the plants.

    I also know that you need to water your plants regularly,if you want them to thrive,and to grow well and to produce lots of flowers.

    We also like growing pot plants,these are very interesting with the different types and colors, but we have to put them on tables or stands to prevent our geese from eating them.

    • Hi Robert. Gardening definitely can be  lot of fun for all the family. It sounds like your garden is full of colour. Jim

  26. This article took my back to the days when I take classes online and I had to include practice in agriculture in order to have a bit of random knowledge of some things and I loved reading the longetivity of plants. Perennial plants are in different varieties and also they all have their distinctive habits, you’ve done justice to it mainly entails. This is very useful idea for my garden, I’ll check some of the plants and I’ll plant some. Please, how advisable will it be to plant them in containers?

    • Hi. Thank you for reading my article. Some perennials are suited to containers and others aren’t. It really depends on a number of factors. The main one being size. Even large trees are perennial and you wouldn’t want to plant them in a container. Why not visit your local garden center? Check the tags and and ask for advice. Jims

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