Perennial Plants Introduction

Perennial - sunflowerPerennials are herbaceous plants that persist over the winter and return for at least two years on their own rootstock.  Most perennials die back to the ground at the end of the growing season and re-emerge the following spring.  Unlike annuals, some perennials may take several years to develop a root system a large enough to support flowering or to set seed.  Some live only a few years; others may survive in the garden for decades.  Perennials have developed a variety of mechanisms that allow them to survive when grown in conditions that resemble their native habitat.  Woody crowns provide protection against winter cold, bulbs and rhizomes, and extensive root systems store or seek out water and nutrients, and provide stability in windy environments; hairy leaves and waxy coverings serve to protect the plant against moisture loss in the heat of the day. 

Perennial - Jupiter's BeardFrom the first snowdrops that emerge through the snow in early spring to the asters and goldenrod of autumn, perennials fill the garden with color, form, and fragrance.  The palette of colors is nearly infinite, from the deepest shades of purple that are nearly black, to the whitest white used to brighten a moonlit garden.  The array of available plants is dazzling; selecting plants with careful attention to their horticultural requirements can fill the garden with a non-stop show of color that often needs no more than some supplemental irrigation during the hottest part of the summer.

With so many plants to choose from gardeners everywhere can rest assured that there are many beautiful perennials available for every garden.  The following is a list of ten “tough-as-nails” perennials familiar to many gardeners.  These are wonderful perennials that will succeed under a wide variety of growing conditions, providing beautiful blooms over a long growing season:

  • Yarrow (Achillea spp.)
  • Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Jupiter’s Beard (Centranthus)
  • Beardtongue (Penstemon)
  • Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
  • Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata)
  • Faassen’s Catnip (Nepeta x faassenii)
  • Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbekia hirta)
  • Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa)
  • Peony (Paeonia)