1. What's a Perennial?
  2. Where should Perennials be used?
  3. Selecting Perennials
  4. Sun or Shade?
  5. How far apart should perennials be planted?
  6. What is dead-heading?
  7. When should perennials be cut back?
  8. Perennial Varieties

What's a perennial?

A flowering perennial is a non-woody plant that dies to the ground each fall and comes up again each spring. In contrast, an annual plant lives for only one growing season and a new one has to be planted each spring.

Where should perennials be used?

Perennials can be used in flower beds with evergreens and shrubs, as borders, ground covers, color accents, or to add texture to your landscape design. The accent color may be a single plant, such as a peony, or a mass planting of daylilies. Perennials also make good cut flowers, both fresh and dried, for the home.

Selecting the right perennial

It is important to know a lot about a perennial before you plant it. How high does it grow? You don’t want taller perennials to hide smaller ones. When does it bloom and for how long? You don’t want to have all of your color in one spot and then no color later. What color is your perennial's bloom and will it clash with other colors next to it? Do I have to stake the perennial to prevent it from falling over? Will the deer eat the perennial to the ground? Does the perennial need sun or shade? Does it need good drainage?

First consider the amount of light that the plants will receive and then check the area for the type of soil and drainage. Most perennials prefer a well-drained site, but there are types that will tolerate poorly drained soils as well as dry soils. Elevating the bed can improve the drainage.

Another point to consider is the mature height and width of the perennial. Tag should specify this information.

These are some of the things to consider when planning your perennial garden. To help you we've put together the Rave Landscaping Perennial Selection & Design Guide to take most of the guesswork out of your planning.

Sun or shade

Although many planting areas fall in the range of part sun to part shade, some perennials require full sun or full shade to reach their potential. Don't rule out a plant that you like just because the conditions are not exact. Try experimenting a little bit.

With respect to perennials and their sunlight requirements, the definitions are:

Sun - An area that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight - including 4 hours in the afternoon.

Shade - An area exposed to direct sun for less than 4 hours per day.

How far apart should perennials be planted?

Most perennials can be planted 12 to 15 inches apart. However, planting them 18 to 24 inches apart will provide better air circulation and keep the larger plants from shading the smaller ones.

What is dead-heading and what does it do?

Dead-heading is the process of removing individual flowers or flower clusters after the blooms are spent, faded, or drooping. Removing them before they begin to seed will encourage the plant to produce more flowers.

When should perennials be cut back?

Perennials should be cut back in the fall or spring to approximately 3-4" in height.

Additional Varieties


Hosta have widely been used as the perennial for shady locations. They have a reputation for their hardiness and disease resistance. Although many varieties are know for their fragrant, showy flowers, they are most highly regarded for their beautiful foliage. Rave's Hosta selections

Ground Cover

These are low growing perennials often used where grass will not grow like deep shade, rocky or moist soils, or on steep slopes. Ground covers are often used where little maintenance is required. Rave's Ground Cover Selections

Ornamental Grasses

Grasses are graceful, low maintenance perennials that thrive with minimal care. Rave's Ornamental Grass Selections

Perennial Varieties

See Rave's Perennial Selections for a complete list of our perennials. Also, see our Perennial Design Guide  to take the guess work out of your planning.