Perennials Are Garden Stars!
June is National Perennial Gardening month and an appropriate time to extol the virtues of these repeating blooming beauties.
First off though, what is a perennial and what’s the difference between it and an annual? And why should I care which I put in my landscape?
Essentially, an annual you plant once and it’s done; it does not come back year after year. It provides plenty of colorful flower power all growing season long but when a frost comes both the tops and the roots die. To enjoy its’ beauty next year, you have to buy new annual plants for your garden or landscape.
A perennial is a plant which provides colorful flowers in a specific window of time, but in general, a much shorter length compared to annuals. However, the tops (what you see above the soil line) will die down to the ground during the winter and the roots are not killed. Therefore, come spring, perennials will flush (grow and throw out new leaves and flower buds) and hence they come back again year after year.
Many perennials are not just prized for their flowers but also their foliage or in some cases, more so for their leaves.
Brunnera, like Faint of Heart™ or Pure of Heart™ (pictured above), puts on a solid show of blueish flowers in early spring but then you’re left with showy heart shaped leaves to brighten dark spots in your landscape. Heuchera or Heucherella (Golden Sizzle™ heucherella pictured below) would be a good example of perennials which do produce flowers, that while pretty, are not a stand out; its’ foliage is the real winner!
There are also some perennials which will provide blooms during ‘off peak’ seasons when it is still too cold to plant annuals. An example of this type of perennial would be Hellebores, also commonly called Lenten Rose. Anne’s Red™ (pictured below) or Emily’s Pink™ of the Sweet Sisters Hellebores™, will flower in mid to late winter, even if there is snow on the ground, when most other plants are still asleep!
Why plant an annual versus a perennial? I say you don’t have to choose, plant both for different reasons and benefit from what each offers your garden.
As I stated earlier, annuals give consistent color from late spring through the fall. You can choose different annuals and color palettes each year and switch up the look of your entire landscape if you so desire. Yes you are spending money on plants that will not survive a full 12 months of the year but the way their color enhances your landscape is priceless.
Like woody ornamentals, perennials are an investment. In fact they actually multiply, getting bigger width wise so you can eventually dig them up, ‘split’ them into many plants (technically called divisions) and share plants with friends or place them in more spots than the original planting location. They can provide long bursts of flower color or consistent foliage color, as well as texture in many instances and are something you can enjoy year after year; they’re not just a one shot deal.
This year the HGTV HOME Plant Collection is debuting their line of One-Step Style™ Perennials; mixed containers featuring only perennials. You can put them on your deck or porch and when the growing season is over, plant them in your yard to enjoy again and again.