Perennials: Perennial Gardens → Keeping Perennials Comfortable
The zone that you live in has a big impact on the plants you select for your perennial garden. Certain flower perennials do better in cold zones, while some flowers don't survive at all in colder regions. For success with your perennial garden, be sure to choose perennials that are hardy for your region.
While many annuals are started in nurseries, hardy perennials are grown frequently on perennial farms. The difference between a nursery and a perennial farm is that a nursery typically grows plants indoors under controlled conditions. Perennial farms grow hardy perennials outdoors and generally are precise in indicating how long a particular species of plant has been grown at the farm. In this way, perennial farms prove that the hardy perennials they grow for sale will survive local conditions year-round.
Hardy or not Hardy
When shopping for hardy perennials at either a local nursery or a perennial farm, most plants for sale will be hardy in your area. However, when choosing hardy perennials online or by catalog, it's necessary first to know what hardiness zone you live in. The term hardy is often used erroneously to mean winter hardy only. Actually, hardiness is a plant's ability to survive year-round. Frequently, plants that are winter-hardy in one zone, will not survive summer conditions in another zone.
Other Hardiness Factors
Aside from variations in temperature, formulating zones for hardy perennials includes other variables such as snow depth and rainfall. Hardiness zones indicate probabilities of plant survival under broad conditions. Extremes in weather, differences in local topography, and gardening practices such as mulching can also have an impact on whether or not a plant will be hardy to your location.
Variables considered by the USDA in drawing its plant hardiness zone map include day length, radiation, temperature, frost, heat, rainfall, and pH. Find detailed explanations of these factors and the map specific to your area from the National Arboretum by clicking the image on the right.
A perennial garden plan may incorporate plants that are hardy one zone away if they are afforded protection during extremes in temperature. Flowering perennials that aren't winter hardy plants can be grown outside of their zone if stored over winter in a sufficiently warm place. Of course, it's easier to bring these plants in from out of the cold if they are grown in a container, but many hardy perennials can be lifted and stored in various ways. Examples of such plants are hardy mums, geraniums, and dahlias.
However, many types of hardy perennials need a period of dormancy to thrive, so take care to give your plants the specific type of care they need to survive in the warmer than normal conditions they may become accustomed to during storage.
Find detailed information about perennials sown throughout Gardening Guides. Learn all about bulbs, perennial seeds, and take a trip to a perennial farm. Check out our perennial garden plans and learn about shade-loving perennials.