Perennial plants return season after season, sometimes for decades. Though the flowers of perennials tend be less showy than those of annuals, which only last a season, gardeners love perennials for their more modest beauty, toughness, variety and versatility. Most perennial plants do not need a great deal of maintenance, and they can be used in everything from a herbaceous border to a grouping of pots on the front porch to formal beds to cutting and cottage gardens. Many kinds of herbs are also perennials. Here are some popular perennials:
This is a shrub that can grow from 1 to 7 feet tall and is known for its masses of pink or white flowers. These blossoms are borne on plumes above pleasing, finely textured leaves. Meadowsweet thrives in partial shade and moist loam. It does not mind being planted in soil that’s soggy, and the species known as dropwort self-sows abundantly.
This familiar and well-loved plant blooms from spring to fall, and bears rayed flowers in every color but blue. It grows well in full sun to partial shade and prefers well drained, fertile, loamy soil. Chrysanthemums are hardy and reliable and are excellent for a cutting garden.
Reed grass is one of many ornamental grasses that lend texture and height to a garden. Reed grass produces pinkish, purplish flowers in the summer, and the leaves turn golden in the fall, which makes it an excellent choice for a winter garden. Reed grass can grow between 5 and 7 feet tall and does best in full sun to light shade and well-drained loam.
This plant gets its name from its masses of tiny gold flowers, which appear in late spring to early summer. It likes sandy soil and full sun and grows to about a foot tall. The plant doesn’t need much maintenance and can become leggy if it’s given too much fertilizer. Basket-of-Gold should be cut back by a third after it flowers and can be propagated by seeds or cuttings.
Irises are known for their great variety of colors that are borne on stems that rise from sword shaped leaves. The leaves themselves are attractive even when the plant is not blooming. Iris plants range from half-foot tall specimens to plants that grow to over 5 feet. Gardeners appreciate the fact that the showy flowers bloom from spring till fall. Irises like moist loam and do well in full sun to light shade.
Though hostas do produce flowers, they are grown mostly for their heart-shaped leaves, which can come in many shades of green or green with splashes of white or gold. The flowers are lily-like and appear on tall stalks over the foliage. The colors range from white to lavender to purple. Hosta is an optimal perennial for a shady garden or border, for it is a plant that does best in partial to deep shade.
Whether they do best in full sun, part sun or shade, like rich loam, sandy soil, clay or soil that’s poor or bear flowers that are tiny or huge and colorful, perennials have been gardening favorites for centuries.