The word perennial comes from the Latin meaning “through the years.” And without a great deal of effort, perennial plants reappear through the years to brighten your garden as delightful flowers, fruits, herbs, shrubs, and vegetables.
Perennials are hardy plants that often require minimal effort to grow and maintain.
Perennials return year after year
Perennials come in many varieties and offer something for everyone
You’re “all thumbs” and none of them are green. And yet you want a varied and attractive garden that can be a source of great pride and pleasure for you and your family. How can you achieve this?
Perennials may be the answer.
Let’s look at some of the options if you’re looking to add perennials to your garden.
Daylilies are among the easiest perennials to grow and can be found in a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes to fit your garden design. Daylilies can grow from 1 – 4 feet and easily stand up to the heat of the summer months during which they will bloom several times right up through the fall.
Part of the daisy family, chrysanthemum varieties come in practically every shade of the rainbow. They don’t like soil that’s too wet and prefer the sun over shade so they can show off all of their magnificent colors. A little simple pruning or pinching from time to time can promote even more robust growth and flowering.
The coneflower is one of the most popular perennials there is, and for good reason. They are beautiful, vibrantly colored flowers that are easy to grow and care for. Plus they’re drought resistant, and have a long flowering season. Even more impressive, is that coneflowers enjoy long lives, with some returning for up to 40 seasons!
It may take more than one season before your false Indigo plant produces flowers, but their striking deep blue-purple blooms are worth the wait. These hardy plants grow to about 4 – 5 feet tall and they’ll spread out 3 – 4 feet, which makes them perfect back line plants to give your garden depth and dimensional interest.
While these beautiful plants appear quite delicate, they’re in fact rather robust. So long as they’re planted in soil that is well drained, and in full to partial sunlight they’ll flourish year after year. Interestingly, they fold their petals at night so as to not be exposed to the cold, and then reopen again in the morning. What a lovely wakeup call.
Many gardeners consider the blackberry the easiest fruit to grow in a home garden setting. They grow best in either neutral or slightly acidic soil and prefer full sunlight. Blackberries can be grown either from seeds or from dormant bare roots. The latter will begin growing much faster, while the former won’t likely produce substantive growth until the plant’s second full year. But be patient and in the meantime start collecting recipes for the pies, tarts, preserves, and smoothies you’ll soon be enjoying.
Much like blackberries, blueberries are also easy to grow. They require many of the same growing conditions as blackberries. They’ll need 1 – 2 inches of water per week, and it’s recommended that you cultivate more than one variety. Blueberries grow best when they have company, and the multiple varieties will attract more pollinators. So, the more the merrier.
Fig trees are relatively fast-growers and can tolerate a variety of conditions so long as they are planted in well-drained soil and positioned in a location in your garden that gets full sunlight. Fig trees in warmer climates can grow as large as 15 – 30 feet, while in colder climates where temperatures will cause shoot dieback, they should be cultivated as bushes. The most work you’ll need to do with your fig bush (between all of the snacking on their delicious fruit) is pruning to manage growth, shape, and fruit production.
Raspberry plants are another easy-to-grow bush that you may want to consider. They are, like many other berries, packed with nutrients and antioxidants. So, they’re good for you while being fun to grow and harvest. They require full sunlight and well-drained soil. You’ll need to install a few posts and a support system, and you’ll need to keep them hydrated and fed. But without much additional work, you’ll be snacking on raspberries before you know it.
You can easily have fresh strawberries free of pesticides by growing them yourself in your garden or even in a container or pot on your porch or balcony. Strawberries love plenty of sunlight and constant moisture, but make certain the soil has good drainage. Variety is the spice of life when it comes to strawberries, and there’s a ton of varieties from which to choose. Consult with the gardening professionals at Strader’s to help you pick the variety that’s best for you.
Asparagus plants can be grown from crowns or seeds. They prefer lots of sunlight and soil with good drainage. You will have to exercise patience initially as new plants require two years or so to become established. Plus you will have to do a little work separating out the male plants from the females. With your thriving harvest of asparagus, you’ll be providing your family with fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K. What your family won’t get is industrial pesticides like those that cover store-bought asparagus.
This flavorful aromatic is a mainstay in most professional and home kitchens, and is featured in practically every course of the meal except dessert. So, having a steady and ready supply of garlic in your garden is ideal. What’s even better is that it’s easy to grow. Garlic can be grown in containers or in your garden. And while they have a long growing season, you will be rewarded for your patience.
Charlemagne insisted lovage be grown in all imperial gardens, it was a favorite of Queen Victoria, and Europeans settling in the new world brought it with them because they loved it so much. Try it and you will too. Lovage is closely related to herbs like parsley, cilantro and dill. The whole plant – leaves, stems, seeds – can be eaten and it has a similar flavor to celery only more pronounced. The plant reaches maturity after about three years, and then returns year after year.
Prized for its toothsome bite and somewhat bitter flavor, radicchio is also called “Italian chicory.” It’s best to plant radicchio in cooler weather such as late winter (after the frost) or early spring. Plant in an area with full sunlight and well-drained soil. Prepare your garden bed with compost before planting, and be prepared to water your plant up to three inches each week. To protect against weeds, mulching is recommended rather than weeding to protect against damaging the plant’s shallow root system.
People love the crisp, peppery taste of watercress, which can be added to soups and salads for greater depth of flavor and texture. Of course, if you’re planning a traditional English High Tea, you can’t be without watercress sandwiches. This perennial herb is easy to grow, but prefers cool temperatures rather than the heat of summer. It also prefers damp soil, or better yet, a watery location such as a small pond or water feature. Speak with the professional gardeners at Strader’s to get started on growing your own perennial herbs and vegetables.
Azaleas come in a variety of vibrant colors that call out for attention – white, pink, red, orange, peach, and purple. It’s hard to resist the charms to these hardy deciduous shrubs that can grow anywhere from 3 – 20 feet tall. They can grow in partial sun or in shade.
Forsythia is sometimes referred to as the “Easter Tree” due to its flowering in early spring near the Easter holiday. A member of the olive family, forsythia plants prefer full sunlight and well drained soil, which isn’t to say they don’t like water. In fact, they need about 2 inches of water each week, and fertilizer once every two to three months. They’re fast growing and you’ll need to do some pruning to promote new growth and flower buds.
These attractive shrubs do double duty, providing your garden with beautiful creamy white brush-like flowers in spring, only to give way to a spectacular display of fall foliage starting in autumn. Fothergilla is slow-growing so give it time to mature at which point it will vary in size between 2 – 3 feet tall and 6 – 10 feet wide.
Also known as Rose Mallow, Hibiscus is another very popular and easy to grow perennial shrub that with a little patience and basic care, will reward you with spectacular blooms. Your hibiscus plants will need to be well hydrated and fertilized. They also prefer full sunlight to shade. Expect the plants to grow between 4 – 6 feet in height, so they may be best situated behind shorter plants to give your garden more visual interest.
Knock Out Roses aren’t just beautiful, they’re also extremely disease and heat resistant. Knock Out Roses were created by internationally renowned rose breeder Bill Radler. They have a bloom cycle of every five to six weeks. And like most roses, they can use occasional pruning in early spring to help shape the bush, and again in the winter to remove dieback and prepare them for the following spring’s growth.
The great American naturalist, John Burroughs, once stated, “Most young people find botany a dull study…but study it yourself in the fields and woods, and you will find it a source of perennial delight.”
Given their impressive variety, perennials are themselves a delight for both the novice gardener and the seasoned horticulturist. So, whether you’re looking to add color and variety to your garden or grow your own bountiful harvest of herbs, fruits and vegetables, perennials are a great choice year after year.
Our experts can help you find what you’re looking for, whether it’s seeds by Botanical Interest, Lake Valley, Burpee and Livingston Seed, or accessories by Jiffy and Sunblaster. We’ve got it all!
But that’s not all! Visit one of our six convenient locations to see our full inventory.