Gardening

Perennial herbaceous plants


Grow perennials


The perennial herbaceous plants are plants that do not develop woody structures like shrubs, but despite this they are able to survive the succession of the seasons, for more than two years; some perennials have a short life, in the sense that they survive only a few years, while others can continue to develop and flourish for several years, brightening our garden with their colors every spring. Typically the most widespread perennials are small, and produce compact, even ground cover vegetation; other perennials, on the other hand, are large, such as the delphinium, and can have a great impact on garden beds. Perennial plants generally have developed a deep root system, or fleshy rhizomes, which allow them to lose the aerial part during the cold months, and to be able to re-sprout when spring arrives; however, there are also perennials that are completely or partially evergreen, which keep the foliage throughout the year. In the nursery we find at the end of winter many species of perennial plants, because often their adaptation to the climate allows flowering as soon as the nocturnal lows tend to rise; bad herbaceous plants There are many perennials, and there are plants with summer flowering, or continuous flowering from spring to autumn. Many perennial plants are also present in the wild, in the wild, where they are opposed to the annuals, which entrust the prosecution of their species only and exclusively to the seeds, since immediately after having matured the fruits, they die completely.

Ground covering perennials




The most widespread perennials in nurseries have small dimensions, and tend to become carpeting over time, some produce dense rosettes of leaves, like the many species of saxifrage, others instead produce tufts of linear leaves, similar to grass (in fact our carpet grassy is constituted by perennial ground cover plants), others still widen on the ground by means of rhizomatous roots or stolons. One of the most widespread and known perennial ground coverings with semi-evergreen leaves is certainly the aubrizia (aubrieta deltoidea) which offers the advantage of a very compact vegetation, which does not exceed 15-20 cm in height, of gray-green color, and a myriad of flowers, which bloom continuously throughout the spring; together with the alyss, the lobelia, the saxifrages, the geraniums and the violets, they are among the ground cover that we can find most easily in the nursery. If we want an evergreen ground cover perennial, bergenia is the ideal plant to enjoy throughout the year, tolerates the cold well, has large fleshy leaves, and produces small pink flowers in spring, supported by thin erect stems.

Leaf perennials




Some perennials are particularly appreciated more for their foliage than for their flowering; certainly it is the case of a good part of the small graminacee, that they occupy the grassy carpets of all Europe, or also the dichondra, with its small heart-shaped leaves. Ophiopogon is also very similar to grass, a kind of lush grass, in compact tufts, with glossy foliage and dark green color (there are also almost black leaf varieties), which in spring produces tiny flowers, very similar to lilies of the valley, but pink in color; ophiopogon is in fact often called Japanese lily of the valley. Other perennial foliage plants include the heuchere: large jagged leaves, in low rosettes, which do not exceed 35-40 cm in height, and available in dozens of varieties, with the most incredible colors, from striped yellow, to dark red, from pink to light green, with small spring flowers, which unfortunately are outclassed by the foliage. Typical perennial from leaf the hosta: compact tufts, of broad leaves, deciduous, that in the first weeks of spring produce a wide mass of leaves; here too there are many varieties, with green-gray, or almost yellow, or striped leaves; the flowers are lilac, gathered in panicle inflorescences.

Large perennials




Some perennials produce a decidedly wide vegetation, which can exceed one meter in height, so they usually find place in large gardens, or on the back of smaller plants. Delphiniums are very popular, producing a large head of jagged leaves, at the center of which stands a stem, which can exceed 120 cm in height, and which bears a huge panicle of flowers in pastel tones; there are also annual varieties, or cultivated as such. Typical large perennial plant, the lupine, which unfortunately suffers a little in the warm Italian gardens, but the beauty of its flowers is such as to motivate some more effort to obtain them. Of great impact, the digital, perennial and even officinal plant; also here from a head of large leaves arranged in a rosette, rises the floral stem, which bears numerous tubular flowers, typically in shades of pink. If, on the other hand, we love plants that produce flower heads, such as daisies, rudbeckia, a large golden yellow daisy, or echinacea, a huge pink or bright purple daisy, cannot be missed in our garden.

The geraniums




Geraniums are perennial plants; the term geraniums in Italy usually means the flowers that we put in the pots each summer on the terrace, whose botanical name is pelargonium; in any case, and whatever you want to call them, they are perennial, and can withstand even a little cold, even if to keep them from one year to another it is important to protect them from the winter cold, and leave them in a fairly dry climate. At the end of winter they are cut a few centimeters from the ground, and in a few weeks we will have our plants full of flowers again. Pelargoniums belong to the geraniaceae family, the plant type of this family is the geranium: perennial ground cover plant suitable for gardens in shade or in partial shade; it produces a beautiful roundish foliage, with an engraved margin, and small flowers of pink, lilac, white or blue; definitely very decorative.

How to cultivate perennials




The concept of perennial plant is very broad, so the plants that we can indicate as perennial herbs they are innumerable, originating from the most disparate areas of the globe; even if we reduce the whole by saying daisies, the concept of perennial daisies brings together the marguerites (bellis perennis) that we find in Italy at the edge of the roads, and the osteospermum, colored daisy originating from southern Africa. It is therefore difficult to find a general way of cultivating perennials, but in any case we can indicate some suggestions. When we choose a perennial, before going to the nursery, we observe the climate of the flowerbeds we want to fill with flowers: in the sun, in the shade, exposed to bad weather, in pots, at the foot of a conifer or an evergreen shrub. Only then will the nurseryman be able to advise us as best as possible on the perennials to be chosen. We also keep in mind that the plants we choose today, if they are treated properly, will still be there next year to show us their flowers and their leaves, so if a plant does not convince us it is advisable to avoid buying it. Once you have chosen the plants, whether it is a sedum or a lewisia, who love sunny areas and also endure drought, or an edelweiss or a meconopsis, which instead need a purely alpine climate, the first thing to do is to prepare the bed that will hold them, working the soil well and mixing it with fertilizer and sand to improve drainage. If the nurseryman has recommended a plant that goes in the sun, we try not to place it in total shade, and vice versa: a geranium placed in full sun besides producing ephemeral flowers, will tend with the arrival of summer to dry up. Let us also remember that, although these are often small plants, without imposing branches, they need regular watering, and we avoid excessively soaking the soil or leaving it dry for long periods of time. Every year, at the end of winter, we clean the bed of perennials from dry leaves or weeds, which otherwise will compete with our plants, which they will have to elbow to grow already from the first emitted bud.

When to buy a perennial




As we said, there are really many species of perennials; most of them, however, tend to produce flowers at the end of winter, in spring or in summer; we try to avoid buying the plants when they are already in full bloom, so let's remember to prepare the flower beds already in autumn, or in early spring for summer flowering plants. Of course it is much easier to say than to do it, as in the nursery plants are usually found in their full splendor, and therefore already in full bloom; in addition to this, more and more often it happens to find in the nursery or in flower shops, flowering plants prematurely, to anticipate the spring by many weeks. These poor plants, if immediately planted in the frozen ground of February, will undergo certain death. So, if possible we buy our perennials in the fall or spring; if it is not possible, or if we have seen in a shop a beautiful daisy in full bloom and it is still March, we keep the potted plant for a few more weeks, on the terrace, so that the house provides a little protection from the intense cold . The plants purchased instead in full bloom, in the right period of the year, without having been forced, will instead be placed immediately at home, but being careful not to excessively manipulate the bread of roots that contains the root system, so as to avoid strong transplant stress.

Perennial herbaceous plants: Propagate perennials




Propagation of perennials can take place by seed; generally it is a very cheap method, because with a tiny sachet of seeds you can get many new plants. But the results are not always interesting; rhyme of everything, it is much easier to get lush and thick plants if you sow those that are directly sown in the garden, when the minimum temperatures are already high enough. Very many perennials, however, must be sown in full winter, keeping the sowing tray in a sheltered place, with good brightness and regular watering; the young plants will be thinned out, and as soon as they can be handled they should be placed in individual and cimated containers, so as to favor the development of thicker and more compact tufts. To obtain flowering plants in this way, sometimes it takes several years, especially in the case of rhizomatous perennials, which take many months to swell their root system. Beyond this, most perennials release their seeds in the garden, where they will remain for months, before sprouting in the spring; therefore, it will not be enough to take the seeds, bury them and water them, but they will also have to be kept in the refrigerator, or stratified, in order to let them spend a "winter" period; an example is the columbines, which despite producing a large quantity of seeds, take several weeks to sprout, and usually only after a period of cold. Many perennials that we find in the nursery are then of hybrid varieties, and therefore we will not be able to know in advance how the flowers of the new plants will be.
For this reason, the most convenient method used to propagate perennial plants consists in the division of the tufts, or in the removal of bulbs or tuber portions in the case of perennial geophytes. Proceed usually in autumn, unearthing the plants from the soil, and dividing the head of leaves and roots into balanced parts, which contain either a single part of leaves and a good part of roots; the plants thus obtained must be immediately replanted. In this way the bed of perennials is also kept clean and tidy, and in addition to this, many species of perennials like to be "updated" through division, which stimulates the plant to produce new roots, and often gives a flowering in spring richer and more abundant.
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