What are Perennials?

Perennials are plants that can persist for many growing seasons. Generally the top portion of the plant dies back each winter and regrows the following spring from the same root system. 

Most perennials are non-woody plants, meaning they don’t have woody stems like a shrub or rose. Some perennials, however, can develop woody stems over the course of a growing season. Russian sage plants and most types of lavender develop woody stems during a growing season. In cold regions with freezing winters, these stems die back over winter. In spring, these perennials must be pruned to a shorter height of 6 to 12 inches. After mild winters, buds on the woody stem remains sprout; after hard winters, new growth emerges from the plant’s roots. 

While we may think of perennials as forever plants, the reality is that most perennials live an average of seven years. 

Many perennials have a specific bloom time. Flowers appears during that specific bloom time and then stop. The rest of the growing season, a perennial’s leaves create food that’s shuttled to plant roots where it’s stored as reserves to fuel next year’s growth cycle. When designing a garden with perennial plants, part of the fun is mixing and matching perennials that flower at different times to create a steady supply of blooms.

Popular examples of Perennials in our area are: Coneflowers, Specific varieties of Salvia and Sage, Daylilies, Scabiosa, and Yarrow! This is just a few, with many other options available for our growing climate!