There’s something truly uplifting about the sight of little shoots poking through the frosty soil in the early spring. At the same time that trees and shrubs are just starting to bud out, it’s an early sign that your perennials are making their comeback after a long, cold Alberta winter.
So what exactly is a perennial?
A perennial is a type of herbaceous plant, which means that it doesn’t have woody stems, it dies right back down to the ground in winter. Other herbaceous plants include annuals and biennials, so it’s worth exploring the differences:
- Annuals only last for one season. You plant them in the spring for an instant splash of life and colour, but when winter comes they’re done. Just to confuse the issue, there are some plants that we treat as annuals here in chilly zone 3, which might be perennials elsewhere. Petunias, for instance, are a perennial in balmier climates, but here we must content ourselves with their beauty on a temporary basis.
- Biennials take two years to complete their life cycle, blooming only in the second year. After year two, they regrow from seed. Sweet Williams (a variety of dianthus) are an example of a biennial that is hardy in our zone.
- Perennials are plants that last for more than two years. They die back completely during the winter, but return in the spring.
Perennials are an awesome choice because they come back year after year. And there are so many choices – whether your flower bed is in full sun, part sun or full shade … whether you’re looking for a dramatic floral display or interesting foliage … and whether you’re looking for ground cover or 6 foot blooms.
Unlike woody shrubs and trees, perennials die back completely, and the stems can be cut back to the ground. They come right from the roots in the spring.
If you’d like to learn more about the fabulous selection of perennials we can grow here in Southern Alberta stop by the garden centre and see what we have in stock. We sell perennials, as well as shrubs and trees, right through until late Fall.