Plant 101: Growing Perennials
A perennial is a plant that returns every year. Perennials include small flowering plants, herbaceous plants, as well as trees and shrubs. The word perennial is used to differentiate from the annual or biennials, which live for only one season and will not return the following year.
The life cycle of a perennial can be short, lasting only a few years, or they can live for a very long period of time. Perennials cover a large grouping of plants from ferns and liverworts to diverse flowers like grasses and orchids. Perennial flowers will reproduce year after year, lasting for many seasons. Make sure to place them around the area in which you desire to put garden statues, so that they do not overtake the area and ruin your blooming flowers for the next year. Perennial plants have growing structures which allow them to thrive from one season to the next in a form of vegetative reproduction instead of seeding. This included bulbs, tubers, woody crowns, and rhizomes, among others. These structures allow them to survive over the dormant and cold seasons.
Perennials are good at adapting to their environments. They have learned to survive hot and dry conditions, as well as under very cold conditions. Plants that work this hard to survive will often not reproduce for a few years. The perennials that produce seeds tend to produce large seeds. These larger seeds are able to compete better with other plants. Perennials will grow continuously in warmer climates, while they are limited to the growing season in seasonal climates. Perennials that loose there foliage is deciduous perennials, while perennials that keep their foliage are Evergreen perennials. Perennials have roots that are deep in the earth, making them impervious to frost as well as fire, allowing them to come back even if the landscape has been damaged.
When deciding what plants to grow, it is important to grow plants according to the planting zone. Planting according to the climate is important. Plants are marked with a zone number, this number refers to the lowers zone that plant will be able to survive in. It is still possible the plant will live outside these recommendations. Perennial crops have a great advantage for agricultural growth. The root systems will help to protect against soil erosion. There are also some really great perennial grain crops, like perennial rice and intermediate wheatgrass.
Perennial plants dominate natural ecosystems in water and on land. Many occur in places that have poor conditions for trees and shrubs. Places include prairies, steppes, tundra areas, etc. Most all forest plants are considered perennials, including trees and shrubs. Perennials are also good choices as opposed to annuals, as they create larger root systems, giving them more access to water and nutrients, allowing them to thrive. If you do not have the area to place perennials, you should consider other outdoor decor features such as outdoor fountains which can become a focal point for areas where plants are unable to grow.
Perennial plants include many types. Some of these are referred to as deciduous, evergreen, monocarpic, woody, and herbaceous. Herbaceous are more likely found in climates too dry for trees and shrubs, where as these, or the woody perennials fill forests. Evergreen perennials will keep their foliage all year long, where as deciduous perennials will appear to go dormant during the cold months and return in the spring. Monocarpic perennials are plants that seed and die, but are considered perennials because the plants return because of the seeds.
Perennials are a great option for a garden setting as these plants will return year after year, and require little maintenance. These plants work well in gardens because they develop strong roots that are able to thrive in many different conditions. Perennials bring a last beauty to a garden setting.