If we reap what we sow, then we sow a little and reap a lot with perennials! Year after year, my enthusiasm for perennials grows, after reading this post, hopefully your enthusiasm for perennials will have grown as well. When you first come across a perennial plant, it may not look like a whole lot. In fact, after you plant your perennial, it may look quite limp and droopy but once the roots take hold and a new grow cycle begins, it will grow and bloom predictably for years and years to come. You see, perennial is the name given to plants that live for more than two years, but most perennials can live for decades. You could say that you plant it once and love it for years. So lets explore the world of perennials, beginning with what perennials are, what benefit can be had from planting perennials to determine what type of perennial would do well in the region you live in.
What are perennials?
As I mentioned earlier, perennial is the name given to plants that live for more than two years, but perennials can live for decades. Digging a little deeper into perennials, we find that the word is also used to classify trees and shrubs, being that perennial plants are usually categorized into two types: woody plants and herbaceous perennials. Woody plants would include trees, shrubs, and vines that remain above the ground, become dormant in the winter and resume growth in the spring. Herbaceous perennials would include the non-woody plants that die back to the ground each fall and re-sprout in the spring.
Why grow perennials?
Clearly, the biggest benefit of growing perennials is that you plant them once and you reap the benefit of that effort year after year. Overall, perennials require very minimal upkeep in terms of watering and fertilizing because their roots are deeper and spread readily into the soil, this also leads to more full and colorful flower beds year after year as the perennial plant grows and spreads. That being said, perennials shouldn’t be neglected, their flower beds still need some tender loving care in ways of weeding, mulching, and ensuring adequate water and mineral nutrients are being received by the plants.
What type of perennial will do well where you live?
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is an excellent guide to help you determine what type of perennial would thrive in your environment. The map breaks the country into twenty regions based on the average minimum winter temperature. If a plant’s hardiness is rated to USDA Zone 5, then the plant will usually survive in regions where winter temperatures get no colder than minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. A plant rated to USDA Zone 9, on the other hand, will only survive in regions where the temperatures stay above 20 degrees Farhenheit.
Once you’ve educated yourself on the hardiness level of the region you reside in, it’s time to select which types of plants you’d like to plant. Here’s where botany becomes important. Botanists have classified plants into groups based on certain characteristics. A species is a group of plants that share many characteristics and interbreed. Next comes the genus, the genus is a group of related species. The species name is usually an adjective that describes a feature of the plant to help distinguish it from other plants in that genus. Therefore, the perennial will have a two-word name that is comprised of the genus name followed by the species name.
Ok, enough science. Now its time for your design, this is the fun part! You need to consider the colors and styles you’d like to incorporate into your flower beds. Once the color and style has been determined, investigate what plant options are available to you that fit your color and style scheme and you can begin your garden layout.
Remember, you really can’t go wrong with planting your perennial flower bed. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you imagined or designed it, they’re flowers, by nature, they’re attractive! So be brave and go out and have some fun!