What are perennials?

What are perennials?

One way to classify plants is according to the number of growing seasons it takes to complete their life cycles. The three main groups are commonly referred to as annuals, biennials, and perennials.

A popular dictionary definition for perennials is “plants living for several years.” They can be slower in terms of growth rate, and may only begin flowering in their second season, but true to the name, they really do last. Annuals, by contrast, complete their life cycles and flower in a year or less, while biennials typically complete their life cycles in two years, or two growing seasons.

If they take longer to start blooming, what actually makes perennials so appealing? In this article we’ll take a closer look and see what advantages and benefits they provide the gardener.



A big part of the appeal that growing perennials offers is that they are a more sustainable solution. Fewer resources need to go into the actual gardening process as one is not switching plants or planting new seeds each spring. Some perennials can also self-seed. This means that the plant will generate new shoots which will replace the original plant once it dies off. So, even should the original plant die after a couple of years, new ones will be ready and waiting to take its place.

The root systems

Perennials tend to develop more complex root systems, which enable the plants to thrive for a long period of time even in relatively suboptimal conditions. As a result, perennials tend to flourish quite successfully almost anywhere.

In addition, these root systems are great for holding soil together, thereby minimizing soil loss. While having hardy and complex root systems is desirable, one needs to consider placement carefully when planting. It’s important to prevent plants’ roots crowding and self-competing with adjacent plants as they grow larger. However, the wide-ranging root system that will spread the plants across your garden, will give it a lovely, full planted, look.

Flower power

Dahlias and hollyhocks are only two of the popular perennials that are grown for their attractive flowers. While all perennials might not flower quickly after planting, they will produce flowers for more years over their lifespans. Every blooming season, you’ll be able to count on your perennials producing a lovely display that will consistently keep your garden vibrant and colorful.

Low maintenance

Another long-lasting benefit offered by perennial plants is that they require relatively less maintenance and attention than other flowering plants. In addition, one avoids having to spend time planting new seedlings every year as would be required with annual plants.

The secret of a successful garden

One must bear in mind that every successful garden requires a certain amount of regular work, This means regular watering and weeding. To keep the display as attractive as possible one also needs to dead-head blooms once they have faded or wilted. This in turn promotes the fresh growth of new flowers keeping the garden vibrant and attractive. In addition, remember the importance of keeping the soil well fertilized to facilitate good growth.

Flowering perennials can produce a magnificent display year after year, so you should definitely consider making them a main fixture of your garden. Then, go ahead and complement them with a selection of annuals or biennials for even greater variety and diversity.