Written By David S.
The joy of perennials and there are a few, include the development of mature flower beds. With annuals, there is always a period when you wait for the plants to grow, mature, bloom, and then die. One of the many joys of perennials is simply that they live longer. That longer lifespan allows the plants to mature and remain for longer in their mature state.
What are perennials?
Perennials are plants that live longer than two years. Technically, trees and shrubs are also perennials. Still, most landscaper designers and gardeners differentiate between a perennial plant and trees and shrubs by making a distinction for perennial plants to be without woody stems.
Examples of Perennials for Southern California
Southern California is home to some tremendous perennial plants. In addition, the variance in topography creates unique microclimates that range from desert to coastal zones.
Verbena is an excellent example of a perennial. It generally lives for three or so years. Some cultivars will reseed and continue without a gap in the foliage. Verbena is a zone ten perennial. There are many varieties of verbena, but Verbena Bonariensis is good at reseeding itself. It can almost be a pest; it is so prolific.
Verbena is a shorter plant suitable for mid-front row in most flowerbeds. The small and brilliant toned flowers form along with bracts, and the lance-like leaves hover thinly on stalks. Verbena is a lovely plant to consider for containers or in splotches along walkways.
Verbena blooms from early summer into the late fall and makes an excellent companion plant for early spring bulbs. As the bulbs die back, the verbena will take off with its bright pink or white flowers. If you are looking for a plant that will break up the linear lines of a sidewalk or path, verbena is a good option.
Succulents and Sedums
Chicks and Hens is a lovely perennial succulent that lives about four years. So you never have to worry much about when the parent plants die because, in those four years, it will give you the “chicks” that will grow to replace the “hen.”
Succulents can have long lives. For example, jade plants are known to live for 70+ years, while that beautiful Christmas Cacti we all have can live for 30 or so years.
Sedums are a fantastic group of plants that do very well in Southern California’s warm environment. They will need extra water in some spots, and in other areas, they seem to grow like weeds. Sedums are an excellent choice for adding color and texture to flower beds and rock gardens. Because they are succulents and do not need a lot of water, sedums are a popular plant for Xeriscaping, pollinator gardens, along pathways, and in containers.
Crassula is a genus of micro succulents that are native to South Africa. These tiny and beautiful plants do pretty well in Southern California. In zone 9, 10, and 11, a little afternoon shade is much appreciated by most members of the Crassula genus. Like many succulents, Crassula offers a range of colors from gray to purple to bright yellow to blues and a lovely methodic texture that enhances the view. Crassula plants are lovely in containers and as frontal flowers in beds but truly shine along pathways where their organized nature helps to break up stark, linear lines.
Daylilies are a lovely family of plants that are hardy to zone 9. They have many excellent features, including a wide range of colors in which they bloom. Different cultivars also bloom at different times, making it easier to have a continuous blooming season.
Daylilies are very useful if you have weed problems and difficulty getting rid of weeds. Their tight bunching habit helps to eliminate weeds by chocking them out, while their lovely green and tall foliage shades out weeds too.
As border plants or grown in clumps, Daylilies offer rich color and texture, especially in places in your yard where it is harder to get some plants to grow. Daylilies are excellent along the edge of trees and shrubs and will help fill in gaps in those areas. Another lovely spot for Daylilies is along a fence line where the blooms and foliage can spill through a picket fence or create a taller green border along a wooden fence.
Perennials need care, and the following products help plants thrive, save water, and help control weeds and pests.
One of the best products for perennial plants is mulch. Adding mulch around perennials is an excellent way to keep weeds down and keep soil moisture levels higher. Mulch helps to shade the ground, so there is less evaporation of soil moisture. Wood chips are a good option for long-term mulch for garden areas. Adding mulch to your perennial bed is an excellent way to save water.
A quality time-release fertilizer is a good option for perennials. Different types of plants need different types of fertilizer. Many of the products that we sell at Green Thumb Nurseries are specialized for certain types of plants, such as daylilies or sedums.
Because perennials have such a lovely return on your investment, invest in specialized fertilizers that help them to thrive. You can also use a broad-based fertilizer, but you may need to adjust the volume.
Perennials can attract pests such as leaf miners and beetles. Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew is an excellent product for pests that chew leaves, flowers or that suck plant sap. It is an organic product with a very short lifecycle. It breaks down in just 24 hours but does a lovely job of removing pests. Use it on flowering plants before they bloom, so it remains safe for bees and other pollinators.
If your yard has ongoing pest issues, stop by one of our five Southern California locations and chat with our plant experts about your pest issues. We carry a vast range of pest control products with options that are organic or nonorganic.
Filling in the Gaps
Perennials are a significant part of the landscaping, and there are so many options for choosing the best perennials for your home or business. The range of height, color, and textures make perennials a natural choice. If you want to gain that beautiful, established look for flower beds and landscaping, perennials are the way to do that. Because they do not die every year as annuals do, you capitalize on last year’s growth, giving you a mature and well-developed look to your yard.
Fill in gaps in your landscaping with perennials or a mix of perennials and annuals. Perennials help to balance the space between trees and shrubs and the rest of your yard.
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