Hardy Perennials for Commercial Landscaping Projects

hardy perennials for commercial landscapingSome flowers need to be replanted every spring, while others will continually pop up every year. These two different types of flowers are annuals and perennials respectively. It’s easy to confuse the two because of their names. Many people assume that since “annual” is typically used to refer to yearly that they come back every year, but it’s the reverse that is actually the case.

An annual plant is one with a life cycle similar to that of humans and animals. It’s born, grows ups and reproduces (goes to seed), and then dies. In the case of an annual, its life cycle spans the typical growing season for the region. Many annuals will be in bloom for a while and then live out the entirety of the spring and part way into the fall until the first killing frost.

A perennial plant is a plant that lives longer; usually more than two years. Perennials return every year and then continue to grow until they reach maturity. Maturity varies for different perennials, but the average is around three to five years.

Although perennials are easier to maintain, they do not bloom as long as annuals. Despite this, perennials are an essential part of most commercial landscaping projects since they are relatively low-maintenance. And since they re-grow each year, the usual maintenance involved with annuals such as digging up dead roots and replanting from seedlings can be conveniently skipped.

There are two basic kinds of perennial plants:

Woody perennials – a tree, shrub, or vine with a root system below the soil and an exposed body above ground. Both the body and root system continue to live over the winter with growth resuming during the warmer months.

Herbaceous perennials – non-woody perennials that also have a body and root system, but the body of the plant dies when it gets cold. The root system survives the winter and the plant re-grows during the spring. Examples are hosta, ferns, grasses, and herbs like oregano and mint.

Several things must be considered when selecting any type of plant regardless of growing cycle. Conditions such as cold hardiness zone, soil composition, shade vs. sunlight, and water requirements are all important factors.

It’s important to keep in mind that due to the energy required for their hibernation period, perennials have a shorter blooming period than annuals in order to conserve energy. As a result, instead of choosing flowering perennials, a better choice might be to opt for perennials such as trees and shrubs with vibrant leaves. A compromise--if you have your heart set on flowering perennials--is to select varieties with staggered blooming times in order to have something always in bloom during the growing season.

The presence of wildlife is a factor that often gets overlooked, but can result in frustration when not considered. If deer are a problem at your location, then hosta is probably not the best choice since deer love to munch on this variety of perennial. Deer also have a “sweet tooth” for lilies. A deer-detracting variety of plant is probably a better choice in these situations.

In locations where deer aren’t a threat; many varieties of lilies are good perennial choices for exterior installations. Fortnight lilies, daylilies, and Lily-of-the-Nile are low-maintenance perennials along with irises, daisies, astilbes, and tulips, however, some maintenance is required for keeping perennials looking their best.

Besides regular watering, weeding, and pruning; deadheading—the removal of wilted flowers—is an important step to encouraging new growth of perennials. And since perennials keep growing year after year, they will keep getting bigger and bigger. In order to keep perennials a manageable size and not allow them to outgrow their space, digging them up and dividing them into smaller clusters and replanting in new areas is a good practice every 2-3 years. This has the added benefit of increasing coverage without investing in new plantings.

Regardless of your commercial landscaping requirements, you’ll want to choose a company that has experience with all aspects of exterior landscaping from landscape design and architecture, horticultural expertise, commercial landscaping irrigation, and the full range of exterior landscape maintenance including caring for all varieties of foliage from trees, shrubs, annuals and of course, perennials!

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