Term Tuesday | Perennial

Published on May 26th 2020
A close up of a flower
Have you ever wondered why some plants need to be sown every year while others burst into flower year after year? The answer lies in a plant’s life cycle. A life cycle is the period of time a plant takes to grow from seed to finally form seeds of its own, or complete reproduction.
Previously we’ve looked at the annual life cycle. This week we’re taking a closer look at the perennial life cycle.
In case you missed the article on annuals, or just need a refresher, tap the article below.

What is a perennial?

Perennials are plants that live for more than two years and will appear year after year to produce flowers in specific seasons. The word perennial finds its origin in a Latin word that means ‘perpetual’ or ‘enduring’.
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Perennials differ from annuals in that they do not have to be replanted each year and can be left in the soil. This makes them more economic in the long-run.
A white flower on a plant

Types of perennials

1 | Short-lived: lasting between 2 and 3 years.
2 | Long-lived: lives 5 years or more
3 | Herbaceous: soft green stems that die back to the ground in winter
4 | Woody: some lose their leaves in the colder seasons but the root system is alive and growing
Some perennials are evergreen, whilst others go dormant and die back to the ground only to produce new shoots come spring. Generally, perennials only flower once a year, however, some varieties do rebloom or continuously produce flowers.
A close up of a flower

Perennials in the garden

Perennials bring reliable structure and colour to the garden. When choosing perennials for your garden, keep in mind the flowering times. Ideally, you would like to have year-round colour in the garden so choose plants that will bloom in every season and some that retain their leaves during winter. You can also play with colour and choose those that best suit your taste.
A close up of a flower
Planting a perennial is quite the commitment so be sure to keep in mind their size at maturity - give them all the room they might need! Most importantly, consider the lighting conditions and sun exposure. Plant the sun-lovers in a position that receives a minimum of 8 hours of sunlight, and the shade-loving plants in a position that receives less direct sunlight.
A close up of a flower

Examples of Perennials:

Take a look at these indigenous perennials in the Knowledgebase:

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