Of three or more season cycles' duration.CH
Perennials tend to live from year to year, as opposed to annuals and biennials, which die root and branch after flowering and fruitingCH. Annuals live only one year, biennials two yearsCH. Perennials include trees, shrubs and herbs, the two former being woody, the latter notCH. "Perennials," as commonly used by gardeners, is a convenient shortening of the phrase "hardy herbaceous perennials," which includes peony, phlox and other non-woody plants whose roots live over the winter while their tops may die to the groundCH. The phrase "hardy herbaceous perennials" is also shortened in common speech to "herbaceous plants;" or one speaks of the "hardy border."CH
A popular fallacy about perennials lies in the common statement that "they die down every year and come up again in the spring."CH Many of them never come up after two or three years of flowering; that is, perennials are not necessarily perpetualCH. Peonies may be as long-lived as shrubbery, and a clump of fraxinella has been known to outlive father, son, and grandson in the same spotCH. But these are exceptionsCH. The general practice with perennials is to divide them every second or third yearCH. Nearly all hardy herbaceous plants should be lifted now and then, because the crowns that give the flowers in most desirable kinds flower only two or three seasons and then die; but the plant may be continually spreading and making new growths, which furnish the flowers, and, unless lifted and divided, the stocks become scattering and unattractiveCH. Another very good reason for lifting and dividing the perennials is that, being mostly strong-rooted plants, they deplete the soil; when shifted, they are likely to be set in a new placeCH.
|This article contains a definition from the Glossary of Gardening Terms.|