Have you already heard and read a lot about wonderful “perennial gardens”? Perennials are often wonderful, but the expression is actually a bit strange, it’s a bit like calling a garden “plant garden” – well, of course, what else! A real garden always contains plants, the additional designation would be more appropriate if it is not a real garden, a concrete garden would then be a garden that consists almost entirely of a concrete area. Perhaps the addition to the name is just an emphasis, because a perennial garden is one of the most versatile and easy-care gardens – perennials are among the most willingly growing and most easy-to-care-for plants of all. Find out more about popular hardy perennials below.
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What exactly is a “perennial”?
Gardeners call perennials all perennial plants that do not develop woody or lignified shoots during growth. Most of the above-ground parts of the perennials die off in winter and sprout again from the root ball (bulb) in spring, but there are also some evergreen perennials such as the creeping bugle. Perennials include perennial flowers, ferns and grasses and most bulbous plants. This makes perennials an important group of plants alongside woody plants (shrubs and trees), namely the second large group of perennial plants.
As is so often the case in botany, the boundaries between the two groups are not very sharp and clearly defined, there are shrubs that are colloquially called perennials (hazel perennials, for example), but the word alpine cushion plants are not perennials, for which But botanists and gardeners do, and then there are subshrubs, a kind of “woody perennials” in which only the lower part of the plant can become woody…
Important components of a low-maintenance garden
What is certain, however, is that perennials are perennials and that hardy perennials are to be found among the native plants. It is also certain that these hardy native perennials are particularly robust and easy to care for, as they developed under local climatic conditions and have survived in this climate for a very long time without any care from a gardener. The normal native perennial is of course hardy here with us, and it really doesn’t need more than one location that suits it, it already grows contentedly and for years without your intervention.
If you want a low-maintenance garden, there’s nothing better than planting it lavishly with native perennials. These native perennials are also a good choice ecologically, our small animal and insect world has known these plants for a very long time and has adapted to them in many ways. When you plant perennials from your natural environment, you provide habitat, food and shelter for the wildlife in that environment.
The ornamental value of native perennials is coming to the fore again after many years of (dubious) enjoyment of exotic guests – what is at home usually develops magnificently and in a form that is familiar to our eyes and therefore always appealing. There are certainly hardy perennials that are imported to us from areas with similar climatic conditions, but satisfaction with a location and winter hardiness can often not really be guaranteed, and in a real garden – a natural environment in the traditional sense – these exotic plants often represent a kind of optical troublemaker.
While a native perennial will blend into its environment with ease, little maintenance or pruning:
Perennials don’t need pruning at all if you can put up with a little clutter in your garden. But you can use scissors, sometimes that makes sense:
- Flowering perennials can be encouraged to develop new flowers by pruning at the right time. In the case of perennials that develop flowers continuously over a longer period of time during the season, you can generously cut off the faded shoots immediately after flowering, often these perennials then develop more and more flowers in the same season. Perennials that flower relatively early and at the same time can be cut back by a hand’s breadth after flowering, and it is not uncommon for them to develop a full bloom again in the same year. But you can also refrain from doing this, but then the perennials could sow themselves. Perennials that move in in the summer should be allowed to do the same, it strengthens the plants if the withered leaves are removed first. If the perennial plants flower very late in summer or autumn,
- As already mentioned, the onion flowers (flower bulbs) also belong to the perennials. The leaves should not be cut off, as the plant produces nutrients in them, which it stores in the bulbs for the next flowering. At most, you can cut off the flower stalks, so that the flower does not become wild, the leaves are only cut away when they turn yellow.
- Upholstery perennials can be a bit tricky – if they tend to become woody you should prune them, otherwise they tend to wilt in a few years. It is important, however, to leave a little fresh shoots when pruning, really only a little, because pruning back into the old wood often leads to these “semi-shrubs” dying, without pruning, bare growth is to be expected.
Planting, watering, fertilizing
Fortunately, there is little to say about the care of native, hardy perennials. If you have given the perennial a suitable location, it will develop vigorously all by itself. Provided you have observed the correct spacing when planting. The individual plants should be placed next to each other so that they quickly form a closed stock. “Closed” is a stand when the leaves of neighboring plants touch each other slightly. Perennials should be planted in such a way that the stock has closed by the second year at the latest. The leaf mass then shades the ground, moisture is retained, competitors are prevented from germinating – you have easy-care vegetation.
Native perennials planted in the right place will naturally grow in that exact environment, and nobody will water them there. So you don’t need to water them in the garden – only if the weather is going completely crazy, you are welcome to intervene and make it easier for your “garden guest” to survive. You can also save valuable irrigation time and valuable water by mulching the soil surfaces, which keeps the moisture in the soil longer.
The perennial plants need fertilizer at most to support flowering, occasionally a little compost is usually completely sufficient, which should be raked in so that the microorganisms in the soil can quickly begin to convert it into nutrients.
Popular perennials and their special needs
Which perennials are popular is of course always a matter of fashion. In any case, ornamental grasses have become fashionable in recent years, and various flowering perennials are always among the perennial favorites. Here is an overview of various popular perennials, their favorite locations and their special features:
- Astern (Aster):
- small to medium sized
- rich variety of varieties
- blooms all fall
- nutrient-hungry sun child
- needs compost or flowering fertilizer
- regular root division helps health
- Peculiarities of the asters: as an insect favorite an ecological enrichment
- Chinaschilf (Miscanthus sinensis):
- bright locations and loose soil
- blooms in autumn
- Water well and water very regularly at first
- fully grown after about 2 years
- Special features of Chinese reed: many varieties from 50 cm to over 2 m in height
- Pampasgras (Cortaderia selloana):
- growing densely in clumps
- very attractive flowers with filigree fronds
- needs a lot of sun and nutrients
- needs light winter protection in colder locations
- Peculiarities of the Pampas Grass: Heights available between 45 cm and 3 m, also adorns in autumn and winter
- Rittersporn (Delphinium):
- classic perennial plant with a total of 300 species
- needs sun with shade close to the ground and nutrient-rich soil with a little loam and sand
- high water demand
- Attention: poisonous!
- Peculiarities of delphinium: sows itself if the seeds are allowed to mature
- Sage (Salvia officinalis):
- Undemanding in lean, well drained soil in a sunny spot protected from the wind
- may only be pruned into the green as a semi-shrub
- Special features of sage: aromatic and medicinal herb and tea plant
- Sun hat (Echinacea):
- is sold in around 40 colors and shapes and is up to 1.5 meters high
- likes the sun best
- otherwise undemanding and hardly susceptible to disease or pests
- Peculiarities of coneflowers: blooms throughout (late) summer, medicinal plant
- Hemerocallis :
- grows in almost any soil, whether moist or dry
- enrich this well with compost
- full sun or partial shade
- only gets complete fertilizer once in spring
- Special features of the daylily: there are now around 3,000 varieties, deciduous
Of course, there are many more perennial plants than those just mentioned. Many of them were once very popular and are now unjustly forgotten. When you set out to explore the perennials, there’s a lot to discover. In addition to the location conditions, you can also use completely different classification criteria. Here are a few suggestions for thematic design with perennials:
- A classic and tidy garden can gain a lot from perennials – they are the plants that grow over an area with the least effort. In such a garden z. For example, formal design elements can be created by planting evergreen perennials in certain areas. A few flowers then bring z. B. the crawling Günsel or the dwarf yarrow, you could find unusual points of view z. B. set with Christmas roses and anemones.
- There are many enchanting perennials for a cottage garden , which, when combined correctly, make the garden appear as if it is just overflowing with abundance. For z. B. the goldenrod with its lavish fronds crowned with richly decorated yellow flower panicles, lush umbels of larger individual flowers add the lupins, really large flowers give you the peony, phlox and hollyhock.
- A perennial rock garden could get its structure with spurge , stonecrop and pennywort. This basis is now combined with various upholstery perennials, stone herbs e.g. B., blue cushion , goose cress or cymbal herb.
- The Perennial Harvest Garden contains all sorts of hardy perennials that will give you benefits beyond just ornamental plants. Living room decorations for the vase bring e.g. B. royal lilies and saplings, rose leaves not only develop decorative flowers, but these and the leaves and bulbs can also be eaten. Just as many perennial herbs are equally tasty, healthy and decorative.