What Is a Perennial Flowering Plant?

Daffodils are popular flowering perennial plants.

Daffodils are popular flowering perennial plants.

Perennial flowering plants are those whose roots remain alive throughout the year, but whose flowers typically bloom and then die. The stems and leaves may remain on some perennial flowering plants, but usually die off before the first frost. Your perennial flowering plant will reappear each year from the root system that continues to thrive.


There is wide range of perennials available for use in borders or perennial gardens. The various properties of the different plants determine the most suitable place for planting. For example, perennials that reach 1 to 12 inches in height usually work best for edging and borders, while plants that reach heights ranging from 12 to 36 inches are more appropriate for use in the back of a garden so they don’t overpower the flowers in front. Some perennials prefer direct sunlight, while others grow best in shade.


Perennial bulbs and transplants need to be planted in the fall so they can take root during the cold winter months. Perennial flowering plants sown in the spring may not bloom the first year, but will produce flowers after staying in the ground for an entire cold season. The flowering plants need a well-drained site. While they require a regular flow of water, sitting in pools of moisture can cause “wet feet,” which can kill the plant. While soil requirements vary between perennial plants, you’ll be safe sticking to soil that has a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5, according to the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust.


The most common types of flowering perennial plants include daffodils, irises and tulips that bloom around neighborhoods and parks throughout the country during the early spring. The popular flowering perennials prefer sunny locations and well-drained soil. Tulips are widely available through online florists such as ProFlowers and are suitable for outdoor transplanting. Other sun-loving perennials include lamb’s ear, black-eyed Susans, hollyhock and yarrow. Perennials that prefer shade include hostas, lily of the valley, Virginia bluebells and sweet violet. Look for flowering plants such as columbine, hardy geraniums, astilbe and coral bells to place in partially shaded areas.


As your perennial garden thrives, you should consider dividing the flowering plants to rejuvenate the older plants, encourage vibrant growth, and increase the number of plants in your garden. Divide plants to keep them from becoming overcrowded. The best time to divide your perennials is when they are not flowering. Those plants that flower in the spring, for example, should be divided in the fall, just before the first freeze to give them time to take root. Most perennials should be divided every three to five years, but plants such as irises and chrysanthemums may need to be thinned out every one or two years. Divide plants by gently pulling out the root systems and placing the removed roots in new watered soil before they dry out.

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