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Perennials have been a part of almost everyone's life; these hardy plants come back again and again. Their diverse form and culture and seemingly endless supply of varieties contribute to the ever-increasing interest in perennials and ornamental grasses. Both Alsip Home & Nursery locations feature spacious departments devoted to our expansive line of perennials and ornamental grasses.
Too often gardeners are scared to work with perennials, since there are so many to choose from. Most are easy to grow and offer years of pleasure for your investment. Instead of blooming all season like an annual, their bloom time is shorter so they can come back to do it again. Keep in mind that since perennials don't bloom all season like annuals, other attributes of the plant become important (such as form, texture, and foliage color). Don’t feel you have to choose one or the other; annuals and perennials complement each other, so use them together.
Commonly asked perennial questions:
• What is a perennial?
A perennial is an herbaceous plant that lives three or more years. Herbaceous plants die back to the ground each winter. Most perennials are grown for blooms, but there are those (such as lamb's ear, hosta and artemisia) that are grown for the beauty of their foliage. The life span of various perennials can range from just a few years to decades.
• Where should I use perennials?
Almost anywhere. Perennials are probably the most useful, versatile plants around. Use them in beds, borders, with evergreens, in containers, in cutting gardens or anywhere you need them. There are perennials suitable for almost every site, from hot and dry to damp and shady.
• How do I choose which perennials to plant?
The site itself is the most important element in choosing the right perennials. Do you have sun or shade? What is the soil like? After that, the most important is bloom color and season. Consult with our staff for details about how tall and wide the plant grows, what it needs, when it blooms, descriptions of bloom forms, colors available and much more.
• When should I plant perennials?
Almost anytime! Since most are now grown in containers, they can be planted throughout the growing season. When planting during the hot part of the season, be sure to provide extra water until the plant has had a chance to root out.
• How do I plant perennials?
They aren't fussy. Just be sure to keep them at the same level at which they were growing in the container.
• Do they require any special care?
Just like all your other plants, they will need fertilizing. Check occasionally for disease or insect problems. Deadheading (removing spent blooms) will often extend the blooming season. After a killing frost in the fall, remove all the dead foliage. Most perennials will benefit from being mulched for winter protection late in the fall.
• What about dividing?
Almost all perennials will perform best if divided every 3 or 4 years. Some of the more aggressive growers (like yarrow) can be divided even more often, and others (like peonies) less often, or never! Most reference books will tell you which varieties prefer to be divided, or stop by and ask one of our horticultural advisors.
Don't limit yourself — there are hundreds of varieties that will grow here, many of which would be wonderful in your garden. And remember, perennials are forgiving. If you mistakenly put something tall in front of a shorter plant, or two colors that clash near each other, move them at the end of the season.