Howdy Texas Gardeners! If you are like lots of other Texans, you’ve recently made a trip out to a garden center near you to welcome spring. While shopping, you may have noticed plants labeled as either annuals or perennials. If you wondered what these terms meant, then wonder no more. I’m going to discuss the two in this article and my next.
What is a Perennial?
Let’s start with perennials. Perennials are plants that live for multiple years. You plant them once and that’s it. These will be your budget-friendly plants because you won’t have to buy them again next spring. Trees, shrubs and most vines fall into this category. So for instance, roses fall in the category of perennial, flowering shrubs. That stately Magnolia you’ve been driving by for years, you’re right, it’s a perennial. Now that we’re clear about the larger plants in our landscapes, let’s talk about a few smaller ornamental perennials you might like to add to your garden to give it color as well as structure.
Considering we are still on the skirts of the drought, let’s look at a tough-as-nails, drought tolerant favorite of mine. Turk’s cap is a native Texas plant that is well adapted to our soil and climate. This means you won’t have to work too hard to keep it alive. Turk’s caps have leaves that look somewhat like those of a hibiscus with small flowers whose upright petals make a swirl. Pictured below you’ll find the traditional red variety, but also a new one known as Pam’s Pink. It looks the same, but the flowers are pink. Both make a beautiful small shrub about 2 to 4 feet tall which will grow in either sun or shade making it even easier to grow. However, if it finds a spot it likes, a few have been known to grow as tall as 9 feet, but this is not usual. Turk’s caps attract hummingbirds and butterflies too making it a great choice to add movement to the garden.
This next perennial is another drought tolerant beauty. It is the African sun daisy. These beauties have become pretty common in most garden centers now. They are very low maintenance plants that bloom late winter through fall in our area. They grow about 3 feet tall and provide the landscape with masses of cheery yellow daisy-like flowers almost year round. As you can see here, they form a small shrub that is striking planted alone or in masses.
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That does it for our lesson on perennials, our plant friends that return for us year after year. Next time I’ll be writing about annuals and what they add to our landscape. Until then, happy gardening!
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