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Perennial gardening includes perennial flowers, herbs, perennial bulbs, grasses and perennial shrubs. Some woody plants, such as trees are also “perennial” in their growing habit. There is a maze of information available about perennial plants, but in the simplest terms, a perennial plant is a plant that lives for more than two years, or a plant that comes back year after year. In the flower garden, perennials are permanent (like most shrubs) but have the color and variety of flowering annuals. Perennial plants grow and bloom over the spring and summer and die back each winter, growing back again the next year from their root stock (rather than reseeding themselves as annuals do.) However, depending on the severity of local winter weather, a plant that is a perennial in its native habitat may be treated as an annual in some areas and planted every year from seeds, cuttings or divisions. Perennial plants can be short-lived or long-lived. They also vary greatly in size, from small flowering groundcovers to large trees that over 3,000 years old. Perennial plants come in a wide assortment that includes ferns and grasses and exotic perennial flowers like Orchids.

Perennials are often used as the “backbone” of the flower garden. This is because most perennials flower over many seasons in their lifetime. Some have even adapted to survive extreme environmental conditions and with their roots protected below ground in the deep soil, they are even tolerant of wildfires. The perennial garden can save time and money for the gardener because plants last a long time. Once you decide on a design for your perennial garden and plant it - all you have to do is maintain it year to year. In warmer climates, many perennials grow continuously throughout the year, and some perennial evergreen species retain their foliage all year long. However, this is not to say that a perennial garden requires no maintenance at all in comparison to an annual garden, because perennials still need tender loving care that includes weeding, watering and pruning.

Perennial flowers are available in every shape, size and color and for every season. A perennial garden can be specially planted to attract birds or butterflies, or you can design a perennial rock garden or shade garden. Many people find great enjoyment and satisfaction in planting an aromatic perennial herb garden for their own culinary use. Some common perennial flowers include Daylilies, Bee Balm, Black-eyed Susan, Bleeding Heart, Hosta, Dahlia, Salvia, Coneflower and Coral Bells. An example of perennial shrubs include Roses, Hydrangea, Peony, Buddleia (or Butterfly Bush,) Lilacs, Crape Myrtle and Burning Bush. Many gardeners consider bulbs to be in their own category - much like roses due to their unique characteristics. However, technically bulbs are perennials with many species that naturalize very well, returning year after year. Perennial bulbs include some species of Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus, Iris, Hyacinths, Easter Lilies and Amaryllis. A well-planned perennial garden includes color, texture and fragrance and can bring you many years of enjoyment and beauty.


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