What Is A Perennial?
Many people are confused by the term perennial. Most non-gardeners think of them as 'flowers'. A gardener though makes a difference between annual garden plants and perennial plants.
Annuals are usually only grown for one season and die off during autumn or winter. Famous examples of annuals are Geraniums or Petunias. Most annual flowers die because they are not frost-hardy and don't survive low temperatures. In their native habitat, they often are perennial.
A perennial flower instead lives from year to year. Most of these plants go dormant and die back for the winter months. Some keep some leaves and others lose all the foliage. They store their energy in the roots, tubers or bulbs for the next season and start growing again in the spring. They are also called herbaceous plants. Popular perennials include Carnations, Phlox or Dahlias
Some Types Of Perennials Are Great Seaside Plants!
A lot of perennials make great plants for seaside gardens. The main reason for this might be that those kinds of flowers die back for the winter. They are dormant when wind and gales are at their worst. The following list of perennials do well in coastal gardens:
Geranium var. - Hardy Geranium
Hemerocallis - Daylily
Kniphofias - Red Hot Pokers
Schitzostylis coccinea - Kaffir Lily
Watsonia (not frost hardy)
Zantedeschia aethiopica - Calla Lily
Secrets Of Success For All Kinds Of Flowers
There are many different types of perennials in all sizes and colors for sun or shade. The variety seems endless. Important for the success with perennials is that you choose the right plant for the right spot. Before you go out and buy a plant make sure that you know about the following things:
Light: is the area sunny, shaded or semi-shaded?
Soil: is the soil heavy (clay soil) or light (sandy)?
Moisture: is the ground wet or dry? Does it hold moisture or does it dry out very quickly?
Nutrients: Is the soil rich or poor?
These are important factors for choosing plants. I see a lot of people choosing plants because they like the flowers! It is, of course, important that you like the color and the flowers. It is more important though that you give the plants the right conditions to thrive! All plants originate out of a specific habitat and are adapted to certain conditions. The closer you get to those conditions the better the plant will thrive.
A plant that originates from a swamp won't thrive on a dry, hot bank. Equally a perennial that is adapted to sun won't thrive and flower well in the shade of a house.
Care And Maintenance Of Perennials
Most perennials need amazingly little care. Of course, you have to make sure that they are not covered in weeds that will compete with them for light, nutrients, water, and space.
Regular dead-heading will promote more flowers and lengthens the flowering period. If you let the plant set seeds it will think that it has fulfilled its biological purpose and will stop to produce flowers.
Most types of perennials will benefit from a general purpose fertilizer in the spring and again during the growing season. I prefer to use an organic fertilizer like poultry manure or fish blood and bone fertilizer for this.
Once the plants have died back in late autumn it is time to cut off the dead stems and old flower heads. If you like you can also do this in the spring. The old flowers heads can look very decorative particularly when they are covered in frost!
Most kinds of flowers benefit from being split every few years. Dividing perennials keeps them vigorous and healthy. The best time to split perennial flowers is early spring for most of them. This is best done with a sharp spade. Dig up the complete root ball and divide it into several pieces. Replant them with some compost and fertilizer. Don't forget to water them in well.
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