Perennials, what are they?

In horticultural circles, the term ‘perennials’ is bandied about as if everyone knows what these plants are. But what are they exactly? And what do you have to know about perennials before you start using them?

Perennials emerge, grow and flower every year

They are also described as herbaceous, meaning that their stems are not woody like those of shrubs and trees. Perennials are the jewels of the garden. Many of them are evergreen, but most are not. Their foliage dies back in the autumn while their roots survive underground so that the plant will emerge again every spring. By making a careful choice of varieties, the flowering periods will succeed one another. This can be from as early as January until as late as December.


Perennials have many advantages. They are beneficial for our health; they have a soothing, feel-good effect and are essential for producing oxygen and purifying the air. A planting of these plants even reduces noise by blocking sound waves. They also ensure a natural gradual drainage of rainwater by absorbing water from the soil. And the water that they transpire into the air lowers peak temperatures during the summer. This is why a garden feels more pleasant than paved areas. Perennials can really do a lot!

Evergreen and deciduous

The leaves of some perennials remain green all winter long. These are called the evergreen types. Most of them, however, are not evergreen but deciduous. This means that their stems and leaves die back in the autumn while their roots remain dormant during the winter. In the spring, they will develop into larger and more robust plants to enjoy year after year.

Living garden

Their enormous variation in colours, shapes and other characteristics make perennials perfect for creating a living garden. Some of them are especially fragrant, attract butterflies or can be used as cut flowers. Their differences in size, ranging from tall conspicuous specimens to little plants that hug the ground also contribute to a living garden.

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