The term perennial refers to non-woody plants that live and flower for three or more years. Some are short-lived and will last in the garden for only three to four years. Others will live and bring vibrant color to the garden for many years. Most perennials will die to the ground over winter and regrow from crowns or roots when warm spring weather arrives.
Perennials provide an advantage over annuals in that they do not need to be replanted every year. They also require very little in the way of fertilizer, and in some cases water inputs. A disadvantage is that many perennials do not flower over the entire summer. This can be overcome by planting many complementary species to ensure that at least some are in bloom at any given time. Many perennials are planted for their interesting form or beautiful foliage.
Perennial plants can be used to create interest in any landscape. They mix well with rocks, fences, hardscaping, and other permanent landscape features. They are best used in places where they can establish a deep and healthy root system, such as in traditional beds, rock gardens, or borders. Many perennials can thrive in situations that are problematic for other types of plants, making them good specimens for sloped areas, water conserving gardens, poor soils, and native plantings.
In this section, you will be guided through information on selecting, planting, and caring for perennial flower and foliage plants. Ornamental grasses and bulbs, although technically considered perennials are covered as separate topics due to their unique characteristics and management requirements.