Perennial plants product what could be argued are some of the most beautiful flowers and provide pollen for bees and other valuable insects. Garden Oasis has a selection of hardy perennials that will produce gorgeous blooms year after year, many of which make great cut flowers for the home.
WHAT IS A PERENNIAL PLANT?
Put simply Perennials are plants which, when are conditions are right will live for many years in our gardens or in pots. Usually the above-ground part of the plant dies back in the Winter and the plant re-grows from the same root stock the following Spring. The beauty of Perennials is their longevity and diversity, and there are many exceptions to the 'dieback' generalisation, therefore you should check growing details of the Perennials you are thinking of purchasing. Although the flowering season will be shown, be patient and bear in mind that the more extreme weather conditions we are experiencing are causing many plants to flower later than expected. We just have to be patient, because once the temperatures rise plants will spring into life again. With weather conditions in mind, remember that more plants die from having their roots rotted by waterlogging than do because of frost.
Perennials are often forgiving of planting conditions, but for instance Hostas are shade lovers, and can thrive in damp conditions but are not happy in bright hot sunshine. Delphiniums, Foxgloves and Hollyhocks are shorter lived, often only 2 years. Aquilegia seedlings will pop up all over your border given the chance. Gardeners frequently dig out seeds and seedlings when weeding and turning over the border, either destroying them or spreading them further afield, so you may end up with Perennials such as Aquilega where you didn't expect them!
Generally Perennials appear more expensive than annuals, but not so when you have factored in that they will regrow year on year, and often spread in habit. Also many can be split two produce two or more plants as they spread, thus increasing your stocks. Spreading border perennials often benefit from dividing every few years. When dividing, try to damage the roots as little as possible, and replant the outer parts of the clump - discard the older central section. Replant and water in as soon as possible. Check your plant instructions for whether division should be done in Spring or Autumn, and bear in mind some Perennials are not happy being disturbed.
THE HERBACEOUS BORDER v MIXED BORDER
The term HERBACEOUS refers to plants which do not produce permanent woody stems - so covers most of the Perennial plants you will be looking at. A MIXED BORDER can include a variety of plants- annuals, biennials and perennials, and often shrubs and conifers.
Often a pure Herbaceous border will look empty and perhaps unloved from late in the Autumn until Spring, when the stems start to push through the soil again, but you can choose Perennials which will flower in your borders in different seasons. Some Iris species are winter flowering and Primulas will give you long lasting low growing masses of bright colour in Spring at the same time as bulbs such as Tulips and Daffodils.
Select carefully and your rockery or planters can have flowers almost all year round. The range of rockery perennials is huge, and you can also infill many small areas such as the front of borders between larger plants or shrubs with them. Far better than weeds and much less work.
WHY CHOOSE PERENNIALS?
There isn't one answer to that question, but if you want long lasting plants which don't have to be replaced every season you should certainly have Perennials in your garden. Gardeners who have an infirmity; who are short of time perhaps through work commitments, or who don't want to spend their time shopping for and planting/uprooting annuals should definitely choose perennials. It could be argued that an ideal border will contain plants of many species to get the best of all worlds.