Perennial plants and flowers grow and bloom for more than two seasons. They have varying lifespans, habits of growth and methods of propagation. Perennials have been called the backbone of the garden because they create a permanent design shape and structure. Perennials are sometimes identified as "grandmother's flower garden".
Sun or Shade
Perennials can thrive in the shade or the sun. Perennials for shady areas have colorful foliage and fewer flowers. Perennials that thrive in sunny garden areas have a wide range of colorful flowers.They also need more frequent watering. Shaded areas stay moist longer and need less water. Perennials for shade include hosta, fuschia and columbine. Daylily, yarrow and Shasta daisy grow well in the sun.
Perennials grow well in loose, rich organic loam soil that is renewed yearly. Perennials need soil rich in nutrients and living organisms. Composted additives contain living organisms that release nutrients into the soil. Compost used every two months as a side dressing gives a continual release of beneficial nutrients to the perennial plant.
Perennials in the sun need more frequent watering. Topsoil is dry to the touch when watering is needed. Shady area perennials do best if kept moist but not over-watered. Water pooled around the base of the plant creates rot and disease problems. Newly planted perennials establish their root systems well with a consistent schedule of watering.
Perennials use a lot of nutrients from the soil. Growth and flower production are most active in spring and summer. Perennials fed weekly during the growing season grow well and give abundant blooms. The nutrients needed for growth are available in compost. The living organisms in compost are slow-released into the soil, providing nutritional benefit over the growing season. Perennials do not need to be fed during the dormant winter season.
Perennial plants need to be divided every 3 to 4 years. There are three signs that a perennial plant needs dividing: flowers have become smaller, it has overgrown its allotted space or it has a bare spot in the middle of the clump. The best time to divide plants is at the beginning of the growth season in spring when root systems are pliable.