Herbaceous perennial plants are wonderful because they come back year after year and, for those of us who have distinct seasons, they bloom throughout the year (as opposed to annuals which mainly bloom in the summer months). There are perennials for pretty much every kind of garden you could want, from shade gardens to vegetable beds to herb containers to cutting gardens. No matter what kind of garden you’re growing, it will benefit from the addition of a few (or a whole lot more!) perennials.
My introduction to perennial gardening was like jumping off a high cliff into a very deep pond. During my crash course in perennial gardening, I learned so much about how to plant, care for, water, divide, and maintain perennials. But first I had to learn what they were!
It started when I was doing my self-directed gardening rehabilitation program. I was looking for ways that I could get involved in the community and garden at the same time and I met a gardener who had a backyard nursery full of perennials that he had divided as part of his garden maintenance work. The nursery was part of a community program that was set up to help people living with addiction gain dignity and purpose through employment working with plants. What his organization really needed was a host to grow the perennials so his employees could divide the perennials and sell them in the nursery.
I was fairly new to gardening at the time and I thought this would be a great way for me to learn about plants while donating my relatively unused sunny front garden to a good cause. I went to work designing garden beds and dug out lawn from more than half of the front yard space.
I was then given 300 unmarked pots of perennials to plant and grow for the year. Each year, I would dig up and divide the plants, pot up the divisions for sale, and replace part of the perennials back into my garden. It was a huge job, but it was one that I was committed to taking on.
The day the plants arrived, I sat on my freshly dug-up front lawn and went into a complete panic! I had absolutely no idea what each of the little green leaves popping out of 1-gallon pots was. There were no labels, no flowers, and no instructions.
I’m not one to back away from a challenge and I love to learn through experimentation. So I dusted myself off and planted those 300 pots of perennials.
I cared for them for the remainder of the spring and summer and watched them bloom into daylilies, Echinacea, black-eyed Susans, irises, Joe Pye weed, hostas, Solomon’s seal, Bergenia, Crocosmia, Lychnis, lamb’s ear, Centaurea, bleeding hearts, Astrantia, Japanese windflower, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and many more flowering plants.
Some grew small and flowered early, some grew tall and flowered throughout the season, and some grew like crazy and took over the entire garden!
And I wouldn’t change any part of that experience.
As the season continued, I was able to see how each plant performed and I wasn’t afraid to dig them up and move them if they weren’t in the right spot. I continued to grow my front yard perennial garden until I moved from that house seven years later. When it was time to plant the garden at my new house, I knew that perennials would be a large part of the garden design.
Over the years, I’ve written a number of articles on perennials based on my experiences growing them. I’ve created a collection of all these articles here in one place as a resource guide. I hope that this gives you some tips for growing your own perennial garden. And I hope you develop a love for perennial gardening just like I did.
Follow these links to learn all about the magic of perennials:
- Dividing Perennial 101: Tips for a Beautiful Garden
- Propagate Plants From Cuttings and Save Hundreds of Dollars (Heck, You Could Even Make Money!)
- These Hardy Perennials are the Toughest on the Block
- The Best Perennials for Sun
- The 7 Best Perennials for Shade Gardens
- Top 10 Drought-Tolerant Perennials
- Grow These Fall Perennials for Brilliant Autumn Color!
- Fall Perennial Gardening: Garden Design on a Budget
- Save Money and Start These 14 Perennials from Seed
- Grow Your Own Perennial Herb Container Garden
- Perennial Vegetables to Plant this Season and Enjoy for Years to Come
- Heat-Tolerant Plants that Love the Sun
- Attract Pretty Pollinators with an Irresistible Butterfly Garden
- Plants and Tips to Create a Bee-Friendly Garden
Even More Garden Tips:
- How to Build Chinese Intensive Beds for a Huge Harvest
- The 5 Best Small-Space Vegetables to Grow Mountains of Food
- Why is My Hydrangea not Blooming?
- Plants and Tips to Create a Bee-Friendly Garden
- Grow Your Own Spring Salad Garden
- How to Clean Garden Pots
I’m reading “The Ringing Cedars Series” and the heroine states one should have 300 varieties of perennials around one’s home. I don’t know which ones, but I see you started with 300, coincidentally.
I live in Southern Utah in zone 7b beside a river with y’all cottonwood trees on the perimeter of our 1-acre property.
Would you have a list of the 300?
Thank you so much,
Hi Derrell, isn’t that interesting! Well, I’m in Vancouver, BC, Canada so my climate is very different. I adopted mine so I got what I got. Perhaps you can adopt some too? Gardeners love to divide and give them away, and it’s a great way to know what does well in your area.
I am looking for info on full sun perenials for containers. Am in zone 6.