Friday, March 18, 2016

Say It Isn't So!

My garden friends and I were discussing "short-lived perennials" and I decided to do more research.  The reason being is most gardeners take it personal when a plant dies.  We stew about: What did we do wrong? Are we no longer skilled gardeners?  Have we lost our gardening mojo?   Perhaps it wasn't meant to be!

I thought this was so important that I considered making it a newspaper article.  However, lists of things doesn't transfer well to newspaper copy.  And so it remains here for those of you who want to know.

The definition of Short-Lived Perennial:  "A self-renewing plant that has a shorter life expectancy than most perennials, and only lasts a few years.  New seedlings will typically take the place of the parent plant (in some species) with proper care. "

Bee Balm
Occasionally you’ll see some of these plants described as self-seeding/reseeding perennials or biennials/bi-annuals.  They may be called annuals or short-lived perennials according to the company's whim.   

Self-seeding/reseeding perennials have a life expectancy of from one to three years but they throw off seeds at the end of the season, creating new plants while the old plants die out. 

Biennials/bi-annuals require two years to complete their life cycle.  The first year usually has a basal rosette of leaves close to the ground and the next year they send up flowers.  They die after flowering.  (Examples are Hollyhocks, Sweet William, Money Plant and many Foxglove species.)  Most self-seed.    

Garden blogger, Larry Hodgson says, “Perennial doesn’t mean eternal.”  That's a hard concept to swallow when we've read the label "perennial" and believed we had a long-lived plant.  There's a discussion that plant manufacturers never say "short-lived perennial" because they don't want to loose a sale.  Others say it's because consumers aren't capable of understanding the concept so they just leave it off the description.  Today we'll understand the concept.    
Dame's Rocket
The average life span of an average perennial, planted perfectly, would be about 7-8 years. Long-lived perennials will probably live at least 20 years and sometimes more. 

Short-lived perennials will probably bloom a maximum of 3 years and then disappear. 

It’s normal and not your fault!

If you take cuttings, divide or even take seeds, ever two years, you may have these short-lived plants year after year. 

Although impossible to guarantee in every locations and situation, the following should be considered short-lived perennials:

The * at the end of the variety indicates they can self sow or self seed.  It may appear they live forever when actually you're seeing a new plant every year.

1  Agastache (Agastache spp.)*
2  Astilbe (Astile simplicifolia)  Divide every 3 yrs.
3  Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata)
4  Basket of Gold (Aurinia saxatilis)
5  Bearded Iris (Iris Germanica)
6  Bee Balm (Monarda spp.) *
7  Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)*
8  Blue vervaine (Verbena hastata)*
9  Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrhynchium angustifolium)*
10           Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
11           Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia trilobata)*
12           Bugbane (Dimicifuga ramose)
13           Butterfly Milkweed (Asciepias tuberosa)
14           Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
15           Cardoon (Cynara spp.)
16           Columbine (Aquilegia spp.)*
17           Hybrid Coneflowers (Echinacea)
18           Coral Bells (Heuchera spp.) 
19           Coreopsis (Coreopsis Grandiflora, C. lanceotlata) *
20           Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis)*
21           Delphinium (Delphinium spp.) (longer-lived in cool climates)
22           Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) (some cultivars are short-lived)
Gallardia "Sunburst Tangerine"
23           English daisy (Bellis perennis)
24           Flas (Linum perenne)
25           Hardy Geranium (Geranium spp.) *
26           Goatsbeard (Aruncus spp.)
27           Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)*
28           Gloriosa daisy or black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)*
29           Goatsbeard (Aruncus spp.)
30           Helleborn (Hellborus spp.)
31           Hollyhock (technically a biannual) *
32           Hybrid Tulip (Tulipa spp.)
33           Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)
34           Iceland Poppy (Papaver nudicaule)
35           Knautia (Knautia spp.)*
36           Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
37           Lupine hybrids (Lupinus x russellii and Thermopsis villos))
38           Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica)*
39           Mauve (Malva spp.)*
Dianthus "Raspberry Parfait"
40           Hardy Mums (Chrysanthemum spp.)
41           Orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)*
42           Painted Daisy (Tanacetum coccineum)
43           Perennial Flax (Linum perenne)*
44           Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa spp.)
45           Pinks (Dianthus spp.) (some species self-sow)*
46           Prairie Clover (Dalea carnea-Pink)
47           Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily (Kniphofia spp.)
48           Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria)*
49           Scabiosa
50           Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x super bum) * (‘Becky’ is long-lived)
51           Tickseed (Coreopsis grandiflora)
30.     White corydalis (Corydalis ochroleuca, now Pseudofumaria alba)*

Shasta Daisies
One of the things that will prevent some of these self-seeding varieties from being in your garden year-after-year is keeping your flower beds full, perfectly neat and totally mulched to discourage weeds.  That pretty much eliminates self-seeding perennials. 

There are also long-lived perennials that have some hybridized varieties that are short-lived.  You might see this with some daylilies and ornamental perennial grasses.

The point here is to help you understand the life cycle of these plants before they enter your garden.  Understand you will probably not have them forever.  Don't create unattainable expectations and then be utterly disappointed at the loss.  

Coneflower "Coconut Lime"
Factor in the cost of your short-lived perennial and is it worth it to have only a few years.  I don't mind paying a little more for a long-lived daylily but a new hybridized daylily that may only live five years just won't fit into my gardening budget no matter how hard I rationalize, covet and drool. 

You may have had some of the above for years and years.  You may have an old variety that is more hardy.  You may have a new hybrid bred to last longer.   The garden gods may have decided to rain their goodness on your parade.  Whatever, many of the above short-lived perennials are worth the trouble and eventual demise to have them in our presence if only for a short while.  

No comments:

Post a Comment