Irish Gardeners Forum Home
 FAQFAQ   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 
Custom Search
Weather Report /
Moon Phase for Ireland

Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Perennials, Ferns and Ornamental grasses

What's a Perennial and How Do I Use It?

Most Recent Posts Planning the garden jobs month by month - DECEMBER
Last post: tagwex
Rocks in troughs.
Last post: tagwex
Time to go?
Last post: tagwex
harvesting rain water
Last post: ponddigger
Author Message
James Kilkelly
Rank: Site Admin

Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 2173
Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2007 6:47 pm    Post subject: What's a Perennial and How Do I Use It? Reply with quote

What's a Perennial and How Do I Use It?
By Stephanie Cohen

Do you know what a "perennial" is? If you do, go to the head of the class - because many people don't know the answer.

Until now...

A perennial is simply any hardy plant that lives three or more years (if you don't kill it). The difference between a perennial and an annual is that a perennial sticks around season after season. An annual, on the other hand, flowers, sets seed and dies all within one growing season. Its motto is, "Live Fast, Die Young." The perennial motto is, "Perennials - Live Long, Remember, 70 is the new 50!"

Many beginner gardeners think their annuals are perennials because the plants appear to come back and reflower the next year. Since we don't always remember exactly where we've planted, sometimes we assume it's the same plant that comes back. In reality it's more likely that the annual the season before had dropped some seed, and that's what bloomed the following year.

When it comes to planting, perennials aren't vegetables lined up in rows like soldiers. They march to a different drummer and are planted in drifts. A drift is simply all the same plants in a contiguous area. We don't plant a marigold, then a zinnia and then a salvia. We plant all of the same type of plant together, like three asters. When we design with perennials we should work in odd numbers - 1-3 for large plants, 3-5 for medium-sized plants and 5-7 for small ones. Otherwise, it makes no impact. The "One-of-Each" school of design makes for a hodgepodge in a perennial border. It's not good - and it's not attractive.

Now that you know what a perennial is and how to properly group them, the biggest decision you'll have to make is where to site your perennial border - sun or shade? This is up to you.

The words "full sun" simply means six hours a day of unimpeded sunlight. However, if you can give your plants four hours of afternoon sun - the hottest part of the day - you can still consider your garden as "full sun."

If you're planting under trees, shrubs, roof overhangs, trellises or other garden ornaments you have now become an official shade gardener. And despite what some people may think, that's not a bad thing - shade is not a constraint when it comes to perennials. It's just another opportunity to plant hundreds of intriguing and colorful plants that prefer those conditions. (Compare this to annuals, where you might be able - on a good day - to name 10 of them that like shade.)

Perennials play well with all kinds of other plants, too. They can be interspersed among groundcovers, underneath shrubs (rather than lumpy mulch piles), in containers, in mixed borders, in herb gardens, in troughs and rock gardens, as cut flowers and, of course, perennial borders. The opportunities to use them are as diverse as perennials themselves.

So have fun with these amazing plants - and happy gardening!

For free registration as a Learn2Grow member go to

Learn2Grow, a Division of Preferred Commerce
1655 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd, Suite 800
West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
+1 877.473.3363 - Toll Free
+1 561.752.2250 - Phone
+1 561.752.2235 - Fax

Gardening books. Ireland's allotments.
On Twitter...

Garden Consultation & Design.

Try my Garden Design home study course!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree

Joined: 15 Nov 2007
Posts: 7
Location: Orem, UT

PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the explanation. Perennials can be divided into two groups: herbaceous and woody. When gardeners refer to perennials they're always talking about the herbaceous type. What's the difference? "Woody" perennials are trees and shrubs...almost any thing that doesn't die back in the winter. It's kind of interesting to think of it that way...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Perennials, Ferns and Ornamental grasses All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1


Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You can attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

Privacy Policy | Copyright © 2006 - 2018 (part of