All You Need to Know About Perennials: Types, Care Tips, and Design Ideas


Perennials are a new garden’s best friend. These plants are known for their ability to naturalize, making them the easiest option for any beginner gardener. With their showy blossoms and vibrant colors, perennials can add a pop of life to any landscape.

One popular perennial is the columbine. These delicate flowers come in a variety of colors and are often found in mounds of blue-green foliage. Columbines bloom in late-season, making them a great addition to extend the blooming period in your garden.

If you’re looking for suggestions, consider planting some sages. These plants are just as beautiful as they are useful, as their leaves can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Sages prefer sunny locations and should be watered only when the top inch of soil is dry.

The iris is another wonderful perennial to consider. Iris plants come in many different colors and varieties, and they bloom in early-season. They are quite easy to care for and can be divided every 2 to 3 years to create more plants.

For a burst of color in your woodland garden, asters are a great choice. These deer-resistant plants are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and will thrive in well-drained areas. Asters are known for their showy blooms, which appear in September and October.

One perennial that is truly a sight to behold is the peony. These plants are known for their large, fragrant blossoms that come in a variety of colors. Peonies should be planted in a sunny location and given a dose of fertilizer in early spring and again after they have finished blooming.

Just 17 miles away from the town of Blackeyed, we recently visited a garden where the Heliopsis helianthoides australis, also known as “false sunflower,” is the star of the show. These plants are easy to care for and will bloom from late spring to early fall. They are also deer-resistant, making them a great choice for areas with wildlife.

In conclusion, perennials are a great addition to any garden because of their extended blooming periods, ease of care, and the variety of showy blooms they offer. Whether you prefer the spiky blossoms of the iris or the bell-like heads of the asters, there is a perennial for every preference and landscape.


Perennials are plants that live for more than two years, blooming and growing year after year. They are a popular choice for gardeners due to their long lifespan and ability to add color and beauty to a garden or landscape.

One popular perennial is the stonecrop (sedum). It is a low-growing succulent plant that requires little water and is drought-tolerant. Stonecrop comes in a variety of colors and is especially colorful when planted in combination with other perennials.

Hibiscus is another perennial that adds a splash of color to any garden. These plants have large, showy flowers that come in a range of colors, from pure white to deep red. They require regular watering and do best in well-drained soil.

Heliopsis or ‘Sunflower’ is an easy-to-grow perennial that blooms from June to September. It is drought-tolerant and needs little fertilizer. Heliopsis varieties such as ‘Loraine Sunshine’ or ‘Summer Sun’ have gained popularity for their extended blooming periods and attractive yellow flowers.

Echinacea, also known as ‘Coneflower’, is a long-lived perennial that blooms from early summer to fall. It is drought-tolerant and attracts butterflies and bees to the garden. Echinacea varieties such as ‘Magnus’ or ‘Kim’s Knee High’ have gained popularity for their showy pink or purple flowers.

Astillbe is a perennial with feathery, fern-like leaves and plume-like flowers. It blooms from late spring to early summer and thrives in moist soil and shade. Astilbe varieties such as ‘Bridal Veil’ or ‘Fanal’ are popular choices for their vibrant colors and delicate blooms.

Russian sage is an easy-to-grow perennial that produces tall spikes of lavender-blue flowers. It is drought-tolerant and thrives in full sun. Russian sage varieties such as ‘Blue Spire’ or ‘Little Spire’ are popular choices for their long-lasting blooms and silver-green foliage.

Black-eyed Susans are a perennial with bright yellow flowers and black centers. They bloom from mid-summer to fall and are deer-resistant. Black-eyed Susan varieties such as ‘Goldsturm’ or ‘Autumn Sun’ are popular choices for their low maintenance and reliable blooms.

Goatsbeard is a perennial that produces feathery plumes of creamy white flowers. It blooms from late spring to early summer and thrives in moist soil and shade. Goatsbeard varieties such as ‘Aruncus dioicus’ or ‘Kneiffii’ are popular choices for their dramatic blooms and attractive foliage.

Lupine is a perennial with tall spikes of colorful flowers. It blooms from late spring to summer and requires well-drained soil. Lupine varieties such as ‘Gallery Blue’ or ‘Chandelier’ are popular choices for their vibrant colors and attractive foliage.

Phlox is a perennial that produces clusters of fragrant flowers in shades of pink, purple, or white. It blooms from summer to early fall and thrives in well-drained soil. Phlox varieties such as ‘David’ or ‘Laura’ are popular choices for their strong fragrance and reliable blooms.

Iris is a perennial with tall, sword-like leaves and attractive flowers in a wide range of colors. It blooms from late spring to early summer and requires well-drained soil. Iris varieties such as ‘Immortality’ or ‘Victoria Falls’ are popular choices for their showy blooms and elegant foliage.

Roses are a perennial favorite for their beautiful flowers and fragrance. They come in a wide range of colors and varieties, from climbing roses to shrub roses. Roses require regular watering and well-drained soil, and they are often planted in filtered sunlight to protect them from harsh afternoon sun.

Overall, perennials are a great addition to any garden or landscape. They provide continuous color and beauty year after year and require less maintenance than annuals. Whether you’ve planted them in a perennial garden or incorporated them into your existing landscape, perennials are sure to bring joy and beauty to your outdoor space.

Site Selection

When selecting a site for your perennial garden, it is important to consider the specific needs and characteristics of the plants you wish to grow. Perennials such as Helianthus helianthoides (Jerusalem artichoke) and Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) thrive in full sun, while others like Aster novae-angliae (New England aster) and Hibiscus moscheutos (rose mallow) prefer partial shade.

Perennials generally require well-drained soil, especially those like Iris sibirica (Siberian iris) and Baptisia australis (blue false indigo) that benefit from moist but not waterlogged conditions. Some perennials, such as Heliopsis helianthoides (oxeye sunflower) and Phlox paniculata (garden phlox), are more tolerant of drier conditions and can withstand periods of drought.

A variety of perennials can be grown in different types of soil. For example, Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) and Hemerocallis spp. (daylilies) can adapt to sandy or clay soils, while Rosa spp. (roses) and Salvia spp. (sage) prefer loamy soils. Some perennials, such as Sedum spp. (stonecrop), are even adaptable to rocky conditions.

Perennials also vary in their water requirements. Some perennials, like Achillea spp. (yarrow) and Lavandula spp. (lavender), are drought-tolerant and require minimal watering once established. Others, like Iris spp. (iris) and Lilium spp. (lilies), appreciate regular watering.

Consider the height and spread of the perennial plants when planning your garden. Taller plants, such as Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan) and Hibiscus spp. (hardy hibiscus), can be placed towards the back of the border, while shorter plants like Geranium spp. (cranesbill) and Veronica spp. (speedwell) can be grown towards the front. Creating a grouping of perennials with similar growth habits and complementary colors can result in a beautiful and cohesive display.

Perennials generally require less maintenance compared to annuals or biennials. Many perennials, like Solidago spp. (goldenrod) and Centaurea montana (mountain bluet), can even naturalize and spread on their own. Deadheading spent flowers can encourage extended blooming periods for some perennials, while cutting back foliage in late fall or early spring can help maintain their appearance and promote healthy growth.

In conclusion, selecting the right site for your perennial garden is crucial for the success of your plants. Consider the specific needs of the perennials you wish to grow, including their preferred sunlight exposure, soil type, water requirements, and growth habits. By choosing the appropriate site and practicing good gardening practices, you can create a vibrant and low-maintenance landscape that will delight both beginners and experienced gardeners alike.

Water Requirements

Watering perennials correctly is essential for their overall health and successful growth. While each perennial plant has its own specific water needs, there are some general suggestions that can help you maintain your garden’s water requirements more effectively.

Roses, for example, are popular in landscape design because they are known for their beautiful flowers. However, they require a significant amount of water to thrive. It is best to water roses deeply, soaking the soil around the plants, to encourage strong root development.

For plants that require less water, such as hyacinth and stonecrop, watering should be done sparingly. These plants are drought-tolerant and can survive with less frequent watering. In fact, too much water can lead to root rot and other issues.

Some perennials, like the clasping leaf stonecrop or sage, have adapted to survive in dry conditions. These plants require little water and can often thrive in arid environments. It is important to gauge the water requirements of these varieties and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Deadheading is an essential practice for many flowering perennials. This involves removing faded flowers to stimulate the plant to produce more blooms. However, deadheading also helps conserve water, as it prevents the plants from expending energy on seed production.

The watering needs of perennials can change throughout the year. Some plants, like the purple salvia or bergamot, may require more water during their flowering season, while others, like the polychrome Heliopsis, may require less water. It’s important to observe your plants and adjust watering accordingly.

When it comes to perennials that are newly planted or recently divided, they typically require more water to establish root systems. Over time, however, as the plants become established, they will require less water. It’s important to find the right balance between providing enough water for healthy growth without overwatering.

If you’re just starting out with perennials, selecting varieties that are known to be drought-tolerant or have low water requirements can be a good idea. Some examples of such plants include the hairy golden aster, purple coneflower (echinacea), and spurge (euphorbia). These plants are more likely to thrive in your garden with less water, making them ideal choices for beginners or those with limited watering capabilities.

In conclusion, understanding the water requirements of your perennial plants is crucial for their overall health and success in your garden. By selecting the right plants, adjusting watering practices throughout the seasons, and observing your plants’ individual needs, you can create a beautiful and thriving garden while conserving water.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.