Herbaceous perennial plants definition

Bergenia in the spring

Matching perennials to your site conditions or garden soil will help you have successful, long-lasting perennial gardens.

A wise professor once defined a perennial as “a garden plant – had it lived, would return year after year.” Loosely defined, perennials will continue growing for several or many years in the optimum environment. The gardener’s term “perennial” commonly means “hardy, herbaceous, ornamental plants.” Hardy perennials are, with a few exceptions, non-woody plants having roots that live through the winter while the tops die back to the ground, particularly in northern climates. A few perennials such as Heuchera (coral bells), Iberis (candytuft) or Bergenia (pig squeak) are semi-evergreen, sporting green or colorful leaves that will survive the winter cold.


Perennials can be chosen for both flower color and interest in foliage. Bergenia, commonly known as “pig squeak, ” also has rich fall color. Photo credits: Rebecca Finneran, MSUE (both)

Some perennials will live almost indefinitely while others tend to be short-lived and may last in the home garden only a few seasons. For instance, peonies and daylilies are plants that may be found on a farmstead long after the home and barn are gone, while coral bells, lupine and balloon flower may be shorter lived.

Bergenia in the fallPerennial, not perpetual

What defines horticulture versus other areas of plant science is the words “culture or cultivated.” This science encompasses what it takes to grow plants outside of their natural environment such as in the garden. For instance, coral bells can be long-lived perennials if they have ample drainage, good air movement and the right amount of sun. Lupines will also live in a garden for quite a while if they are well matched to the soil type. Balloon flowers are magnets for deer and vole feeding. Gardeners who employ simple, hand-made barriers may enable this plant to survive for many years. So the life expectancy of many perennials is really up to how the gardener chooses and cultivates them.


Heuchera (coral bells) are great perennials, sporting both colorful flowers and foliage.
Photo credit: Rebecca Finneran, MSUE

Michigan State University Extension recommends researching the site requirements for the perennials you wish to plant. Another wise professor once said, “Fortunately for us, plants can’t read books.” Since we can’t match soil and growing conditions for each individual perennial, successful garden displays are often the result of years of trial and error. When selecting plants, remember perennial doesn’t mean perpetual!

Unlike annuals, perennials have a shorter season of bloom, specific to each variety. While plant breeders continually look for perennial cultivars that re-bloom or have long-lasting blooms, they still will not be in flower for months at a time. To enhance the enjoyment of perennials, researchers continually seek new clones with different bloom periods coupled with attractive, even colorful foliage.


Blue Dick

2008-04-09 08:24:22 by --


A.K.A.: Dichelostemma capitatum
Blue Dick is an herbaceous perennial growing from an underground corm to a height of as much as 60 cm. It has 2–3 leaves which are 10–40 cm long. The inflorescence is head- or umbel-like, and dense. It usually contains 2 to 15 flowers, which have a blue, blue-purple, pink-purple, or white perianth. The flower tube is 3–12 mm and is narrowly cylindrical to campanulate. Flowers have six fertile stamens, deeply notched, lanceolate, white, angled inward, slightly reflexed at tip, with outer filaments wider at the base


Nope, herbaceous flowering plant

2012-05-06 19:58:43 by -

The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant.[4] The plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy and are often mistaken for trees, but their main or upright stem is actually a pseudostem that grows 6 to 7.6 metres (20 to 24.9 ft) tall, growing from a corm. Each pseudostem can produce a single bunch of bananas. After fruiting, the pseudostem dies, but offshoots may develop from the base of the plant. Many varieties of bananas are perennial.


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