It is the plants that give the garden its abundance and vitality. The most enchanting include all those who spread rich impressions with their flowers, colors and scents. The perennials that return year after year are exceptionally valuable. They give the garden its face. Garden design has been experimenting for a number of years: a new color scheme has arrived. It’s expressive: bright, bright colors, mysterious or elegant.

Basic questions

The perennial beds are the highlight of every garden. Perennial gardens can be quite different. Whether a romantic sea of ​​flowers or an emphasis on the interesting foliage is preferred is a matter of taste. Various grasses can also be used in a perennial garden – for example in particularly dry areas in the garden.

So if you are planning a perennial bed in your garden, you should answer a few questions in advance. In principle, when planting perennials, the flowering of the individual plants should be distributed over the season. But if the bed turns out to be very small, a flower highlight should be created.

  • What are the structural conditions like? (Path edging, border bed, middle bed)
  • In what style is the rest of the garden planted (cottage garden, heather garden, Mediterranean)
  • What ground and light conditions will prevail at the future location?
  • What colors should the leaves and flowers be?
  • What height should the perennials reach?
  • How much time should be invested in maintenance?

In order for the plants to find optimal living conditions in the bed, the location should be selected according to their occurrence in nature. There are suitable perennials for almost every location.

Investigation of the future location

Before a perennial garden is created, the question regarding its planting must be clarified. The most important criteria for the choice of plants are light and soil conditions. Most perennials prefer sunny to partially shaded places with humus, well-drained soil.

1. Lighting conditions
In every garden there are locations with very different lighting conditions. Usually there are places that are sometimes in the shade, sometimes in the sun at different times of the day.

  • sunny to partially shaded: most perennials prefer this location.
  • Full sun: Especially the places in the garden that are illuminated by the blazing midday sun are problematic for many plants, as it can get very hot and dry. Good site conditions for dry gardens or prairie gardens.
  • semi-shady to shady: There is little light near bushes or under trees. However, a large number of perennials are also available for this location. A shade or forest garden can be created here.
Tip: don’t get discouraged. Despite the best choice of location, there are always a few failures. And a few corrections will always be necessary in the first few years.

2. Soil conditions
Sunny locations often tend to have extremely barren and sandy soils, while cool and shady locations have very moist and humus soils. The soil can be prepared a little, for example by adding sand, gravel or humus, but in most cases it cannot be completely changed. Therefore, the perennial garden works better if the plants are selected according to the soil conditions and not the other way around.

Tip: The darker and crumbly the soil, the higher its humus content and water storage capacity.

Planting plan

Once the light and soil conditions have been clarified, the next step is to select the plants. This works best if the most conspicuous and largest plants are selected first, then matching smaller perennials. So that the number of plants also fits the space available, a drawing of the local conditions and the individual plants should always be made. The easiest way to do this is with the help of a true-to-scale plan, on which all the desired species are noted with the necessary spacing (growth width). The required number of plants can then be easily read from this.
A single copy of perennial plants should only be used in exceptional cases. The bed comes into its own better if at least 3-5 plants of one type are clumped together. The individual plant groups must merge – both when planting and when they are in bloom. This is the only way to achieve impressive arrangements.

The basic framework
For a perennial garden it is very important to create a proper framework. These mostly conspicuous and large perennials are also known as leading perennials. Only a few different types of plants should be used for this, otherwise a colorful mess will result. The leading plants are usually always at the back of the bed (in the case of border beds). In the case of round beds in the middle of the garden, the guide plants are also in the middle. The remaining plants are then placed between them and in front of them in stages according to their size. So all plants come into their own.

How should a bed be constructed?

In order to achieve a convincing effect, each perennial bed should always be divided into certain perennial types. They are named according to their ranking in the bed:

  • Leading perennials: They determine the appearance of the perennial bed. Usually these plants are particularly large and have a strong flower color. Guide perennials are only used in small numbers.
  • Accompanying perennials: The plants are usually characterized by a slightly lower growth height, the color of their flowers should harmonize with the leading perennial or form the complementary color. They are planted in somewhat larger clusters around the leading shrub. About 2-3 different species are common (3-5 bushy plants per species settle around the solitary plants).
  • Filling plants: Ground cover is often used in the remaining gaps and in the front bed area.

What fits together?
No matter which style prevails in the garden, it is always the colors that have a direct effect on the world of emotions. That is why the right choice and combination of colors is of great importance. The vigorous perennial plants in particular look splendid at the edges of trees, paths or as a round bed in the middle of the lawn. Perennials can grow to a height of over a meter and, depending on the species, multiply strongly. Although the variety of colors in the perennials is almost infinite, it is better to use a few selected colors according to a certain color scale. Wild and cultivated varieties also usually do not go together. Combination examples are:

  • White flowers against dark foliage.
  • Complementary colors: strong yellow with dark blue.
  • Red flowers with dark green foliage (complementary color).
  • Silvery leaves with pink, purple, and blue flowers.
  • Blue and purple tones together with white have a refreshing effect.

Selection of plants

So that the perennial bed impresses with a lush bloom all year round, the selection is first made according to the flowering time:

  • Spring bloomer
  • Summer flower
  • Autumn bloomers

Many perennials are annual or biennial plants. Anyone who prefers an easy-care garden should therefore use perennial species. Otherwise, a new planting of the respective perennial is due every spring (or every second). The locations should therefore be labeled for better orientation.

Many nurseries or online shops have already sorted their range according to color, flowering time or light requirements. Anyone who buys perennials as container plants in stores should pay attention to the following:

  • The root ball must be moist.
  • No moss or weeds in the pot.
  • No roots grew through the holes in the pot.
  • strong plants without withered spots.

Preparation of the soil
Most perennials prefer a sunny location with a rich soil. Therefore, the condition of the soil must be checked in advance. It may need to be improved. The soil should be dug up before planting. The soil is loosened, old roots and stones can be removed, and compost or fertilizer can be incorporated.

  • Provide waterlogged soils with drainage.
  • Mix barren and sandy soils with compost or humus.

Planting time
In principle, perennials can be planted all year round as long as the soil is frost-free. In order to guarantee particularly good growth, however, it is advisable to create new perennial beds either in spring or in autumn. Since ornamental grasses do not like moisture, planting in spring is the right time for them.


Before planting it in the ground, it is important to know how tall the plant will grow. In this way, a corresponding distance to the neighbors can be maintained. In the beginning, most gardeners tend to place the plants too tightly, so there is a risk that they will hinder each other from growing.

  • Before planting: water the root ball thoroughly.
  • Planting hole: 1.5 times the size of the root ball.
  • Carefully loosen the roots in the pot (knock on the pot).
  • Remove the top layer of soil in the pot (it is often afflicted with weeds).
  • Carefully loosen the roots.
  • Insert into the planting hole and fill with soil.
  • Press the soil lightly and water well.

For most perennials it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring with organic material such as compost or slow release fertilizer. If it is dry, the soil must be watered thoroughly beforehand and the fertilizer carefully worked into the soil. If a mineral fertilizer is applied to an existing perennial bed, the plants are then thoroughly showered so that the salts it contains do not cause burns on the leaves. From July onwards there will be no more fertilization.

Plant examples

The individual plants of a species are always planted together in a puddle. The perennials mentioned should be set in such a way that the plants listed on the left are always on one side, and the order on the right in the description should be adhered to. This is the only way to guarantee that the individual plants match in height, flowering time and color. (Example 1: sage before aster, aster before daisy, daisy before delphinium).

Colorful perennial garden in a sunny to partially shaded place (border bed):

  • Requires space about 3.5 x 2.5 meters
  • Back: delphinium (3 pieces), sun eye (3 pieces)
  • Before: Marguerite (3 pieces), splendid notch (5 pieces), phlox (8 pieces)
  • In front: medium-high aster (6 pieces), fine jet (6 pieces)
  • Front: sage (5 pieces), chamois (3 pieces), cockade flower (5 pieces)

Summer dream in yellow and blue

  • Required space about 3 x 2 meters (width / depth)
  • Back: yellow meadow rue (1 piece), light blue meadow iris (2 pieces)
  • In front: violet bellflower (3 pieces), orange daylily (1 piece), light yellow noble sheaf (1 piece)
  • Before: yellow foxglove (3 pieces), blue cranesbill (2 pieces), white-yellow feverfew (2 pieces), purple aster (2 pieces)
  • Front: white sage (3 pieces), yellow mountain chamomile (3 pieces), purple tendril (5 pieces), yellow daylily (2 pieces)

Cool red tones in combination with gray-leaved perennials for a cheerful color scheme:
The following plants are simply mixed and distributed over the area:

  • Purple sun hat
  • Ball thistle
  • beautiful
  • Fuchsrote Segge

Play of colors with leaves and flowers: purple and violet in combination with dark foliage

  • Iranlauch
  • Purpurglöckchen
  • silvery-gray noble diamond
  • Frame the tuffs of the light-leaved plants with purple bells.

Shadow gardens and forest gardens

Some perennial plants do not develop their beauty in the form of flowers, they work through their leaves, which can often change in shape or color in the different seasons. Such perennials usually live in shady locations and are therefore ideally suited for the design of a shade garden. But there are also flowering plants that can do without a lot of light. The giant mammoth leaf (about 1.5 meters) looks particularly beautiful with ferns in shady locations. The following plants are ideal for a forest garden:

  • Ferns (worm fern, lady’s cycle fern, lady fern, hart’s tongue fern)
  • Funkien (Hosta)
  • Bergen
  • False mandrake root
  • Johanniswedel
  • Geißbart
  • Eisenhut
  • Lady’s mantle
  • Silver candle
  • Japansegge
  • Moos-Steinbrech
  • Dalmatian bell

Planting example

Shade planting with a captivating structure and leaf color

  • Required space: about 1 x 1 meter
  • Back: Jacob’s ladder (2 pieces), candle lugularia (1 piece)
  • Middle: blue leaf funkie (2 pieces), yellow green edge funkie (1 piece)
  • Front: blue fescue (1 piece), forest marbel (2 pieces), black snake beard (2 pieces)

Dry gardens

Anyone who finds particularly sandy or permeable soil with little storage capacity in the garden will find it difficult with many plants that always prefer a moist soil. But a perennial garden can also be created here. However, the plants must be chosen carefully.

Planting example

Robust, drought tolerant shrub bed in yellow and pink

  • Requires space about 2 x 1.5 meters
  • Back: catnip (2 pieces), blue-ray oats (grass, 1 piece), white coastal sea kale (1 piece)
  • Before: White grass lily (1 piece), yellow bearded iris (1 piece), steppe wolf milk (1 piece), yellow bearded iris (1 piece)
  • Front: feather carnation (2 pieces), catnip (1 piece), gray cork’s bill (3 pieces), feather carnation (2 pieces)

Prairie garden

Prairie gardens are a special form of dry garden, which are reminiscent of steppe landscapes or prairies through their planting. Prairie gardens are very valuable for native insects and all kinds of reptiles.

  • Requires space about 2 x 1.5 meters
  • Back: Spiked splendor notch (3 pieces), prairie candle (splendid candle, 1 piece), spiked splendor notch (3 pieces), pipe cleaner grass (1 piece)
  • Middle: mosquito grass (1 piece), prairie candle (1 piece), lavender (1 piece), prairie candle (1 piece)
  • Front: prairie sage (2 pieces), lavender (1 piece), spiky splendor (2 pieces), scented nettle (1 piece)

Stone gardens

Upholstered perennials are very versatile, especially in rock gardens and on dry stone walls, they get along well with poor soil and little water. In the rock garden too, too many types of plants should not be planted together. Different shades of one and the same species come into their own in a much nicer way.

  • Blue pillows
  • Upholstery phlox
  • Hornkraut
  • Pentecost
  • Carpet gypsophila
  • Steinbrech

Grasses in rock gardens: The design appears calmer and balanced if only one type of grass is used.

Low hedges as bed edges
Low boxwood hedges create a very special spatial effect in the garden. They are particularly suitable for gardens that are laid out in inner courtyards, for old farmhouses or facilities similar to monasteries. The hedges do not separate the individual beds so sharply, but provide a light structure. However, the bed borders only look good if they are cut regularly.

Anyone planning a perennial garden should check the light and soil conditions in advance and then choose the right plants. The effect of perennial beds is achieved almost exclusively through the coloring and combinations. Therefore, one or two leading perennials should first be selected, which can then be used to orient the other plants in terms of color and size. Perennials work better when they are planted in groups of the same plants. Also, not too many different species should be planted in the bed. The rule here is: often less is more.

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