Perennial Plants

Perennials are plants that will inhabit your garden and live anywhere between three and thirty years.

We can sub-classify a perennial as one of these five types:

  • Evergreen
  • Deciduous 
  • Monocarpic
  • Woody 
  • Herbaceous

Evergreen perennials

The evergreen perennials will keep their leaves throughout the winter and are useful for retaining some color in an otherwise dead-looking garden.

The most popular evergreen perennial is Bergenia (Spring Fling) according to Suttons the leading seed supplier. The interesting thing about Bergenia is that the foliage changes color as the season progress: bright green in the summer to deep purple in the autumn.

Deciduous Perennials

These shrubs and trees have an annual life-cycle with bright blooms in spring and summer, Colorful foliage in the fall and during the winter they rest before starting all over again in the spring.

A favorite shrub in this category is Weigela, which provides color throughout the season and is introduced as part of a perennial border. It loses its foliage in the winter, but the roots keep functioning until the very coldest weather.


Like other perennial plants, Monocarpic plants spend at least one year in a vegetative state and then will flower just once before dying.

Members of this category are mostly herbs and shrubs.

The plant will generally flower when pick up clues from the environment that suggest it is the optimum time to bloom. Because they die so quickly these plants will often produce large numbers of seeds.

Woody Perennials

Woody perennials have stems that grow with every season.

These are usually trees, shrubs, vines, and fruit.

Once you plant a woody perennial you have no further need to replant every year.

A great example of this is the Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) that is content to live in all sorts of soils, puts up with pollution, and can overcome drought.

Because it it can self-sow and take over a garden if you permit this.

The shrub has green in the will turn red.

It also features bright red fruits in the fall and in the spring yellow flowers. It is so prolific that certain parts of the USA have banned it.

Herbaceous Perennials

Unlike woody perennials, these plants grow non-woody stems annually, and when the season die back before reappearing the next year.

A good example is a Geranium which is usually low growing and dense.

These plants will squeeze through gaps in neighboring plants and form a carpet with the flowers sitting on top of the foliage. The flowers vary in color and range from white to purple, pink, magenta, and blue.

Generally, Geraniums like a position fully in the sun with a well-drained soil.

Final words

As you can see in this brief introduction, there are hundreds of perennials, coming in thousands of different shapes, sizes and colors. ranging from tiny flowers to trees. They all share one attribute, and that is they will live for several years.

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