Guide to Planting and Caring for Perennials


Perennials are plants that live for two or more years, and require little attention required planting. Perennials are probably the most versatile groups of plants with an immense diversity of leaf shapes, textures, colours and flowers. They can vary in height from low, creeping varieties such as spotted dead-nettle (Lamium maculatum) at around 12 cm (5 in) high, to the lofty pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana), which can grow to more than 2.5 m (8 ft) tall. With this huge array of plants to choose from, there's bound to be a perennial to suit your garden, whatever its style, climate or soil.

As the term 'perennial' also applies to shrubs and trees, this section deals with herbaceous perennials: those which do not form woody tissue. Most herbaceous perennials die back in autumn and then send up new growth from their bases in the spring; however, there are also a large number of evergreen perennials that keep their foliage all year round.

In this section, we'll take you through everything you'll need to know when working with perennials, from buying and planting, through to taking care of their everyday needs. If you're searching for the right type of perennial, take a look at the handy planting guide, where you'll find suggestions for choosing plants for use in different situations, such as those that will thrive in moist, shady positions, those suitable for clay soils, or those that are particularly suitable for cutting or drying.

Selecting Perennials
A look at choosing the right plants to suit your garden.
Using in Borders & Beds
Detailed advice on how to create a perennial bed or border, along with some handy planting suggestions.
Growing from Seed
Find out how to collect and sow perennial seeds.
Buying Mature Perennials
How to choose and purchase healthy perennial plants for your garden.
Planting Perennials
Everything you need to know about planting perennials in containers or in the open ground.
Staking Perennials
Tips on supporting small, clump-forming plants such as asters or peonies, as well as taller perennials such as hollyhocks and delphiniums.
Improving Perennial Flowering
How dead-heading, thinning, stopping and pruning can increase the number and quality of perennial flowers.
Transplanting Perennials
Your guide to moving an established plant to a new position in the garden.
Routine Care
Watering, weeding, feeding and other maintenance tips for your perennial plants.
Winter Care for Half-Hardies
A look at protecting your half hardy perennials from frost.
The Gardening Year
A handy checklist for sowing and planting times for perennial plants throughout the year.
Choosing the Right Perennial
Learn which perennials can be planted in shade, clay soil, and other conditions, along with varieties that are scented, or provide winter interest.