Why Plant Perennials?

Ilona Erwin

With the economy still in the dumps, everyone is interested in growing their own food (including me), so what is the purpose in growing plants for mere ornamentation? Especially plants that seem to provide bloom for only one part of a growing season rather than the entire summer, like annuals?

You might be surprised at the economic and common sense involved in a choice of planting perennials in the right places of your landscape.

Making Your Home More Attractive (Curb Appeal)

Perennials, if well chosen can create another layer of attractive plantings to a landscape. They can give longlasting color in the form of either blooms or foliage. A clump of perennials makes a transition from lawn to shrubs and trees, which makes mowing easier. All of this increases curb appeal and makes a house more attractive to buyers of your home. Less costly than shrubs, with less work than lots of annuals, I would always include them in a home landscape plan.

For the Sheer Beauty of It

Perennial plants are some of the most beautiful and interesting plants available in commerce. Sometimes you do something merely for the joy it gives you, and planting a drift of flowering plants can give your eyes something to be happy about. Often attracting butterflies or hummingbirds is a side attraction. Giving variation in the shady parts of the yard is another feature that perennials like hostas often give, as well.

The variety of perennials is an amazing aspect of growing them, and leads some to the hobby of creating flower borders and special gardens devoted primarily to the perennial class of plants.

What Costs More, Your Time and Effort or Your Initial Payment?

A few pots of a perennial plant usually cost more than some packs of annuals, but once the perennials take hold they last for years; and sometimes for longer than a lifetime (peonies, for example). They often are easily increased by division, too. However long they last, they usually have more substance of form than annual plants and instead of planting every year, they give you a few years before you need to divide or replace. And the difference in initial cost is usually negligible.

The balloon flower decorates the July garden.

Perennials are often plants that provide food for wildlife, sometimes work as groundcovers to reduce yard maintenance, and mark the season in a special kind of way. They even provide some fall foliage color to add to the tapestry of color that makes autumn such a lovely time of year.

When Should I Buy and Plant Perennials?

If you have your plant catalogs handy, there is no time like the present to order your perennials. The nurseries start to stock them near the time it is best to plant in your area. Start looking at the end of March in Central Ohio. April is the best time in this area to plant perennials… and you can continue all the way through May. You kind of don’t want to plant them past then due to the fact that our intercontinental summers heat up and really stress new plants that don’t have the time of spring to get some roots down. But you can break the rule if you think you can provide the moisture necessary to get your perennials through the hottest parts of summer. Here, that mean all the way to late September. It’s up to you. And your drought restrictions. OR you may plant in the early fall, ordering anytime in August and September, and planting during September and October.

Don’t worry if plants don’t look like they are doing much at first- they put down roots and get settled in the first year, usually. Longer lives sometime mean a longer settling-in period . But you won’t be sorry when you see them bloom!

Maybe This All Sounds Too Easy

It is and it isn’t. Some perennials are that easy, but not all of them. The information is available to chose the ones that are easy, if that is what you want… and when you buy them, the plants all come with growing information and some of us writing garden info are doing our best to share our own experiences of growing the plants in our own yards. All for you :)

Just starting out? Try 50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants. Or if you were ready to take on the whole enchilada of what is available in perennial planting and tending, read Tracy DiSabato-Aust’s excellent The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques

….originally posted on my garden journal….

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.