Perennials are plants that have a period of dormancy and then return for several years. The obvious advantage is that they don’t have to be replanted each year. If you’re new to gardening, check out this list of outstanding perennials for Texas. To peruse pictures, go to the Plant PicturePages.
While perennials have many advantages, they do have to be divided, pruned, cut back and fertilized. They are not carefree plants. They are easily pruned (they don’t grow to be 80′ tall!). But if you don’t know where to start, here is a guide to pruning just about everything.
Perennials are fun to propagate because one of the joys of gardening is sharing your favorite plants with others. Propagation is an entire subject, of course, and knowing how to propagate a particular plant can be a puzzle. Some are propagated by seed, some by division, some by cuttings. There is no rule of thumb, but if you can’t find out how to propagate the plant you love the most, try everything. Of course there is a lot more science than that (isn’t there always a catch?), but there’s not much to lose by sticking a cutting in the ground to see if it roots. Just be sure you have one or more nodes underground, or it definitely will not root. Putting a little rooting hormone on the end of the cutting is also a good idea. Here is a quick guide to propagating some of our local favorites.
Many perennials need to be divided every three years or so because they become so thick that they fail to bloom any more. Iris is a good example. Division is actually sort of fun because most plants are fairly forgiving. You can dig in with a hatchet and have them divided in no time. This page from the Smith County Master Gardeners has expert advice about dividing perennials.
What do Master Gardeners grow? Check out our favorites: Texas Superstars and Master Gardener Favorites
To see more information about Shade Plants, visit this Shade Plants page.