Gardening is an art…
Flowers with their beauty add years to one’s life. A garden with many flowers and perennials is all one can have. Gardening can be very specialized, with only one type of flowers grown, or involve many numbers of different flowers in mixed plantings in growing plants in an orderly and beautiful manner.
This way of growing plants differentiates it with farming or forestry. Perennials add more beauty and charm to a garden than any other big plants such as root vegetables or foliage.
Nothing’s More Beautiful than a Blooming Flower
Active participation in gardening is always necessary for making your garden as beautiful as you can. Gardening for yourself is selfish, but you don’t even know that how much you are giving to the society and mankind in return by planting flowers and perennials.
Blooming colorful flowers always make people happier and sometimes prove to be the medicine for the human soul. Many tools and accessories are also available to make gardening easy.
The Concept of Permaculture
Presently, around 80% of the food crops including wheat, rice and other cereals cultivated across the globe are annual plants. It is considered this way for quite a long time. Perennial plant food crops are still in the minority.
Photo Credit: https://eecosphere.com/articles/world-meet-permaculture/
The method of Permaculture strongly emphasizes the importance of including perennial plants in our food. Permaculture is used to create a permanent system by using perennial plants, rather than using annual crops or any other herb.
Perennials are small unfussy flower plants with a long life. They grow around a flower in a bunch. They grow in spring and summer seasons. They die in every autumn and winter, and then again return in the spring from their roots. However, depending on the local climate, a perennial plant in its native habitat, may be treated as an annual plant by the gardener and planted every year.
For instance, tomato vines live for several years in their natural habitat, which can be both tropical or subtropical, but in temperate regions, they are grown as annual as they don’t survive the winter.
Life Cycle of Perennials
Perennial plants can be short-lived or long-lived, depending on the weather conditions. Plant groups of ferns and liverworts or orchids and grasses only are counted in the category of perennials. Most perennials flower in many seasons of their lifetime; these are called polycarpic. Whereas monocarpic are those who flower only once in their lifetime.
Perennials grow in shapes of bulbs, woody crowns, and others. To survive in cold and dry seasons, they grow additional stems and branches. In this way, perennials adapt themselves in every climatic condition. While doing this, they invest a lot of resources; therefore, do not flower often.
Perennials V/s. Annual Plants
Perennials adapt themselves to their best to their specific environments. When we examine both annual and perennial plants carefully, we will come to know that both of them have evolved two distinct survival strategies. As a result of this, they occupy two different ecological niches.
Photo Credit: http://oregonstate.edu/dept/nursery-weeds/feature_articles/post_herbicides/postemergence_herbicides.html
Annual plants include many flowers (both wild and cultivated), weeds and other crops with shallow roots. They live for a shorter time duration of like a year or two. Their growth is rapid compared to perennials that grow very slowly and live for a longer span of time. Perennial plants can also live up to centuries together in warmer climates.
Interesting facts about perennials:
- Most of the plants on earth are perennials
- Perennial plants don’t need re-plantation
- Perennial plants need less fertilizer and water
- Cooler temperatures keep them healthy
- In these plants, different parts of it rest at different times and resume their growth independently
- They may not bloom at the starting when they are planted, but after that, they will bloom every year
- Tropical perennials cannot survive winters
- They do not produce as many seeds to survive and reproduce
- They multiply by spreading their shoots, which will develop into new stems
Merits of Having Perennials in Your Garden
Plants have two main categories: annuals and perennials. Species that go through their whole life cycle, from planting an annual to its germination and maturity and crop production all within a single year are called annuals. The plant dies after or within a year. On the other hand, perennials live for many several years. They die, but their rootstock remains alive, and it is from this that the next year’s flowers and crops come.
Permaculture favors the perennial plants, primarily because of their established root systems. There are several other advantages of growing perennials in your garden like:
1. Improved Soil Structure
The perennial plants live in the soil for many years. Even after they die, their rootstock will remain on the ground in the soil. This improves the soil structure by benefitting the microorganisms in the soil. Meanwhile, other plants in the neighborhood are also benefitted by receiving proper oxygen and water in amounts they need.
2. Perennials Have Nutrition
With deeper and widely spread root systems that stretch deep down into the soil, perennial plants can access nutrients from the soil that are out of the reach of annual plants easily. They utilize these nutrients by bringing them up to the surface where it is distributed amongst themselves and other plants, which can access it. This is useful for elements such as nitrogen, which is an essential factor for plant growth.
Plants need a lot of nutrition for their growth. Trace elements are also important for plant growth, which is found deep in the soil. This includes magnesium and iron elements that are present deep in the soil.
3. Water, a Big Necessity
The roots of perennial plants bring both nutrients and moisture from deep down the soil profile. Again, the drawn moisture by the root system becomes available in the upper levels of the soil profile for other neighboring plants to access. This also helps the soil to remain moist and prevent it from drying out, which further makes it susceptible to erosion by the wind and other factors.
Planting perennial plants in your garden will help access more water from the soil. In addition to this, it also prevents soil from drying out by preserving its moisture. Even after dying, perennials never lose all their foliage, retaining enough to become a cover crop.
This advantage of perennials is helpful to protect the soil from evaporation by the sun. It also maintains the soil structure by protecting it from erosion by the wind, rainfall, and other external factors. Valuable topsoil is preserved in this way to make nutrients available for plants growth.
5. Save Energy
As the perennial grows its crop from the same rootstock it left when it died, the gardener may not want to utilize energy clearing more area for sowing seeds composting and mulching the soil to make it rich with nutrients for plantings. In this way, the gardener will be able to calculate the amount of the crop production that the perennial cultivates, especially in the years when the plants are matured.
This allows the gardener to plan ahead for more crops and to know when their crop is likely to be ready to harvest. Perennials also need less attention and care than annuals, provided that they are completely established, and their rooting system is balanced, which helps give them the nutrients in amounts they need.
Top 10 Perennials That Your Garden Should Have
1. Blanket Flower
Photo Credit: http://parkseed.com/arizona-sun-blanket-flower-seeds/p/03250-PK-P1/
The blanket flower has its scientific name as gaillardia. It is a drought perennial wildflower that can also tolerate heat. The color provided by this perennial wildflower is long lasting with a yellow color border. Perennial flowers bloom throughout the summer. This category of perennial will flower from the first year from seed. It is often short-lived.
Photo Credit: http://www.all-creatures.org/picb/wfshl-slenderspeedwell.html
Veronica flowers have 7-inch spikes. These plants grow about 12 inches to 24 inches in height and are available in blue or red from early summer through fall. Veronica prefers the sun in the north; however, the flower prefers a little shade in the South. These perennial flowers should be planted at the front of the bed.
3. Tall Garden Phlox
Photo Credit: http://texassuperstar.com/plants/phloxvictoria/index.html
This perennial Phlox flower looks great to the back of the gardens and cottage gardens. Border phlox grows till 3 to 4 feet tall. From summer to early fall it bears large trusses of the fragrant perennial flower. It’s a conventional perennial flower and has very few competitors. It grows in color that displayed brightly. It offers a sweet, light fragrance.
4. Russian Sage
Photo Credit: https://www.gardenerdirect.com/buy-plants-online/698/Perovskia-Russian-Sage/Perovskia-atriplicifolia-Russian-Sage
These plants are suited for larger gardens as it grows 3 feet wide and 5 feet tall perennial clouds of blue flowers, which blossom in late summers. Russian sage likes the sun in any direction and is tolerant of heat and drought. It needs for its growth.
5. Perennial Sage
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Hybrid perennial sage is a relative of the herb family and is employed in herb gardens. Combining 18-inch spikes of white, purple or blue, perennial flowers it has attractive gray and green combination foliage too. Sage should be planted in a sunny area; eight in the front or in the middle of the border. The variety shown here is showy and cold-hardy.
Photo Credit: http://www.thegardenhelper.com/aster.html
Asters burst forth with their star shaped perennial flowers during late summer time and in early autumn. Bloom colors include every light and bright shade, which includes ruby reds, blues, rich pinks, and purples. Depending on the species, they can soar up to 5 feet. Asters are excellent to be planted in beds and borders. It is also used for cutting to bring indoors.
Photo Credit: http://www.thegardenhelper.com/discussions/10-false-spirea-astilbe-chinensis.html
The feathery grass like perennial flowers of Astilbe rise above fernlike foliage in a month or more; however, mostly they grow in the season of late spring and early summer. These astilbes are available in many color and shades like shades of pink, white, and red. Moreover, astilbe grass is ideal for shady and moist spots. Plant a swath of this tall astilbe perennial flowers to have a magnificant piece of art every year.
8. Purple Coneflower
Photo Credit: http://austinnativelandscaping.com/echinacea-purpurea-eastern-purple-coneflower-echinacea/
This wildflower achieves a level of sophistication in your garden making it breathtaking and elegant. What it throws out is petals horizontally in a daisy-style. Coneflower Perennial flower tolerates heat and drought in equal amount and blooms the entire summer. Plant these 30 inches tall beautiful purple perennial flowers in the middle of the room or behind the bed.
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It is a lovely North American native perennial prairie grass namely switchgrass, which offers the garden its beauty. It is very easy to maintain and handle. Varieties of this grass grow from 2 to 6 feet tall and have hairy, cloudlike plumes appearance. Some varieties also have good shades like rich red or purple foliage in the autumn season.
Photo Credit: http://www.almanac.com/plant/yarrow
You can grow yarrow with little effort, even when you don’t know much about gardening. It is an amazing perennial flower, which also comes in shades of many dark colors; it is hardy in the United States of America. This flower can withstand all types of weathers including heat, drought, and cold in equal amounts.
These Yarrow perennial flowers are valued in the garden because of its ferny, gray-green or dark green, spicy-scented foliage appearance. It also has showy, flat-topped clusters of flowers in colors like pink, red, white, or yellow from late spring to early fall.
Perennial Gardening aims in improving your garden from all aspects. Your garden should be healthy with a natural touch of perennial plants and crops. Besides this, your garden will look so green and elegant and as healthy as possible throughout the year because of the right fertilizers, mulching, and use pesticides along with the perennial plants. This environment will help to achieve good peaceful mind.
Perennial flowers are the backbone of every garden as it provides a large number of benefits. They support their neighboring flower plants with the water and nutrients they draw from the soil.
Careful Gardening With Perennials
A perennial plant has a lifetime of more than two seasons and the plant will completely die back in the winter, leaving back its roots there in the soil. There are some basic steps and care methods needed to keep your perennial plants in their best form and to come back again and again, year after year.
Those care and maintenance methods and techniques for your perennial gardening shouldn’t be very complicated and costly. It is a perfect mix of certain basic principles of horticulture with common sense and good intellectuals along with an eye on the details. Below is a list of basic principles of looking after your perennial plants.
Study the existing site in details, which you are going to grow perennial plants. Knowing the site conditions is the foremost step in gardening. The factors together that govern the state of the garden site include:
- Air circulation
This is another most vital factor in cultivating healthy plants and crops. Soil with pH levels between 6 and 7 is best suited for the growth of perennials. Moreover, an addition of organic matter to soil improves its texture, fertility, and its capacity of holding water. A 2-3 inches layer of mulch must be applied to conserve water. It also reduces the need to weed, and keep the overall temperature of the soil cool.
Winter mulch of evergreen boughs is applied at the time when ground is frozen plants from being pushed out of the ground. Newly planted or divided perennials need winter mulch very much. It is also used for tender plants. In the spring season, mulch must be removed.
Plants after planting must be immediately soaked and checked regularly to prevent drying out. Addition and sprinkling of water should be done on a regular basis and should be made as the top most priority in gardening. Deep watering makes perennials root deeply, no matter how frequent it is. Perennials are drought tolerant only after they have become established. The need for frequent watering is reduced to some level by the addition of mulch.
Know The Basic Needs Of The Plants
Being acknowledged of the needs and requirements of each plant individually in the garden is an essential task. Some plants require sunlight while the others require shade to grow. Some want the soil to be dry, and some need it moist. Know these requirements of the plant and note the plant size when it reaches the maturity levels so that it can be properly placed fulfilling its housing needs.
A dense garden’s hard to maintain. Plants with a maturing height of 3’ or above should be planted with a gap of at least 2’ to 3’ feet to give them space for growing further, and plants that grow taller than 2’ to 3’ in height should be spaced by the distance of 1.5’ and 2’ in between them.
Perennials gain health from dividing and lifting themselves after every three to four years. But, there are some perennials that require being disturbed and stay good when propagated by seed or by cuttings. Rejuvenating the soil by dividing plants is necessary. This is done by organic matter like the compost or leaf mold.
Fertilization is an optional choice in case of perennials. Some need more fertilization while others need less fertilization. As there are perennials who when to get over fertilized will experience tremendous soft growth and produce flowers seldom, which are not desirable. A test to ensure the quantity of fertilizer needed by each perennial should be connected before fertilizing the plants.
Staking is done to prevent flopping of perennial plants over in the garden. Plants are having heavy flower heads or long and soft thin stems, which tend to blow over. Many die during heavy rainfall and storms. For making the plants grow through the stakes, and the best time for staking is early spring.
Fall-flowering perennials are planted in the spring season or late summer while they are planted in late summer or early fall; whereas, it is good to check exact planting dates for getting good perennial growth. Ample time with a lot of patients is required by the Perennials to establish themselves before blooming.
Post the death of foliage of perennials, in the fall, removal of dead leaves stems and spent flowers is necessary. As these dead leaves and stems often harbor insects and disease-causing organisms. Winter mulch must be applied after the temperature of the soil has dropped.
Seasonal Care For Beds
In the month of March
- Cut back tall grasses of perennials.
- Prune roses of the flowering plants.
- Test the soil profile.
In the month of April
- Remove winter protection from the plants
- Weed and mulch
- Divide plants
- Plant root plants
In the month of May
- Finish mulching, which is left incomplete in April
- Water newly-planted plants evenly.
- Conduct a soil test while establishing new beds or while planting new plants
- Staking must be done
- Weed and water as necessary in proper amounts.
- Scout for pests is necessary.
- Cut back the dead leaves.
In the month of July
- Weed and water as required.
- Fertilize everblooming daylilies and mums.
In the month of August
- Weed and water as necessary
In the month of September
- Water as necessary
- Move and divide plants
In the month of October/November
- Weed and water as required by the plants.
- Apply mulch
- Winterize the garden evenly after the field is frozen.
Many perennials do not grow truly as desired by us from seeds or roots from old plants. Many off-types of color and shades and flower form are produced. Uniform results are obtained from purchased seed, whether hybrid or strains.
You can sow perennial seeds directly in your garden areas, or you can start planting indoors or in a cold frame. Therefore, perennials are the best species of plants and herbs to make your garden healthy and green with many colorful, beautiful shades.