Perennial Plants

A perennial plant is a plant that has the life cycle of more than two years, and some sites even state perennial plants as plants that exist for more than three years.

Perennial plants dominate many natural ecosystems on land and in freshwater while there are some that exist only in shallow sea water such as Zostera. There is the herbaceous perennial plants are particularly dominant in conditions too fire-prone for trees and shrubs, e.g., most plants on prairies and steppes are perennials; they are also dominant on tundra too. Mostly all plants that are in the forest are perennials, the trees and shrubs inclusive.

Perennial plants are usually better competitors to annual plants, especially under stable, resource-poor conditions. This is as a result of the development of larger root systems which is effective in accessing water and soil nutrients deeper in the soil and earlier emergence during spring.

There are different types of perennial plants

  1. Evergreen perennials which include Begonia and banana.
  2. Deciduous perennials include goldenrod and mint.
  3. Agave and some species of Streptocarpus are examples of monocarpic perennials
  4. Woody perennials include maple, pine, and apple trees.
  5. Herbaceous perennials which are cultivated in agriculture include alfalfa, Thinopyrum intermedium, and Red clover.

There are also perennial flowers which include Hibiscus, Gilmour, Kniphofia. Perennial fruits which include

  1. Apple
  2. Avocado
  3. Banana
  4. Blackcurrant
  5. Blueberry

And also perennial herbs which include

  1. Sage
  2. Lemon Balm
  3. Oregano
  4. Mint
  5. Lavender
  6. Rosemary. They are also known as herbs.

Trees and shrubs sometimes are considered as being a woody or non-herbaceous perennials. They may lose their leaves in winter but remain very much alive in their roots right up through their stems, branches, and buds. Perennial trees and shrubs would be considered woody.

In tropical climates, many vegetable plants can grow as perennials but die in cold climates. Many perennials can thrive under extreme climatic and environmental conditions due to the development of specialised features. The adaptation of some is to survive hot and dry conditions or cold temperatures. Those plants tend to divert a lot of their resource into their adaptation, therefore, affecting them in that they often do not flower and set seed until after a few years of growth. For many perennials, they produce relatively large seeds which have an advantage, with larger seedlings yielded after growth that can better compete with other plants. Some annuals produce many more seeds per plant seasonally, while some (polycarpic) perennials are not under the similar condition to produce large numbers of seeds but rather, they can produce seeds over many years.

There are planting guides for perennials, but first all there are preparations, some argue that the hardest part of planning your perennial garden is the preparation work. More so, a small fraction of time is taken in planting a large border as compared to the practice of clearing vegetation and blending amendments into the soil.

However, if you are going to be planting perennials, you should also prepare for litter as litter is also the organic debris shed by perennial vegetation upon the surface of the soil and is important in tropical rainforest ecosystems where the tropical chain of detritus predominated.

Before planting, it is expedient that you transfer your proposed garden design from paper to the planting bed. The mature size for each perennial should be certainly noted. If your perennials are in pots with plant tags, it’s important that you source for that information that is represented on the tag.

Slowly and carefully place the plants with the correct plant spacing for their mature size. You might want to let the potted perennials sit on the bed for a few days to view the design from several angles and confirm that you’re satisfied with it.

What’s the best time to plant Perennials?

Ideally, Fall is an best planting time in mild regions, where winter provides moist soil and cool air without freezing temperatures.  For climates with clearly defined wet and dry seasons, plant perennials at the start of the rainy season and allow rainfall to irrigate the plants is actually the best. Planting of perennials in cold climates during the late spring or early summer provides them an entire season to grow before winter cold arrives. The best planting time to aim at for perennials is at the time of the year when the plants will be able to sink roots with the least amount of stress. So the entire point is having a cold, moist climate is best for planting

Can you store perennial plants?

Yes, definitely make sure you place shade or sun perennials in a shaded spot, arrange them orderly so air can freely circulate between plants. Water them when the soil is dry and on windy days, check the soil twice; water is very much needed.

Do they need sun?

Definitely, sun lovers need at least four hours of sun each day. You should place them in spots where they can get the sun. More importantly, water is also needed


Adding mulch after planting works well when you’re dealing with large perennials a quart or gallon size, for small and bare-root perennials, it’s often easier to mulch the bed before planting. To plant, simply pull back the mulch and dig a planting hole.

Digging a hole

Dig a hole that’s no deeper than the height of the root ball and a few inches wider than the container. Remove any rocks you unearth while digging. In the case of a bare-root perennial, at the base of the planting hole a mound is formed so as to hold the crown and allow roots to spread out and down. Most perennials flourish when their propagating parts are planted at the same depth as in the growing container.  Dig so the sides of the hole slope toward the centre of the bottom. The hole of well-prepared beds are usually as wide and deep as the pot.

Tools for Planting

A trowel can be used for digging, for harder soils, using a digging spade or round-point spade creates a sharp, straight bed edging. Small holes can be well and effectively dug with the use of a short-handle shovel, which are sometimes sold as a contractor’s shovel. The peculiarly of the ease of managing it’s short handle especially on your knees makes it handy for planting. Other useful tools include transplanting spade and hoe


Caring for perennials take a lot of effort, before planting you might need to ensure that there is no moss and that there are no soils around the roots. Trim any dead or broken roots. Try to keep as many roots intact as you can. The rate with  which plant will take off when growth begins during spring is directly proportional to the bigness and healthiness of the root system at planting. In some cases you might also need to soak the roots in water, this is to rehydrate them. Do this for at least an hour but not more than two hours.


At the centre of the hole, form a mound of soil to hold the plant at the right depth and help anchor it while you fill the hole. The plant should then be set on the mound and its root evenly spread over the soil. Fill back the soil halfway, then fill with water. After the water has been absorbed, finish backfilling the hole. Firm the soil and water again. Add mulching materials around the plant. Again, supply water so as to moisten the soil and always keep the soil in a moist condition until the plant becomes established.

N.B. Water is very important

Doing anything post planting to ensure a perfect growth will require close observation, irrigation and also climate. Placing mulch around perennials, covering any exposed soil and also removing unwanted weeds or grasses from around them.