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Friday, February 27, 2009

How long do perennials bloom?

When I was doing quite a few gardening lectures, I was often asked why perennials don't bloom as long as annuals. I had to explain that my understanding is that they bloom for a shorter time span because they need to conserve energy to return again the next year.

Most likely there is a much more scientific answer for this question but in my own garden I have had some perennials that bloom for a very long time and it seems like many of them don't reliably return. Hellebores though are quite hardy here.

This photo was taken last year on June 9th. You can see that the Hellebore was in full bloom. I couldn't find a photo of when the Hellebore began blooming but I'd guess by late March if not early April it was blooming. Since it certainly didn't stop blooming a day or two after June 9th, I can pretty much bet that it bloomed for over 3 months. That's an incredibly long bloom season for a perennial!

There are other perennials that bloom for a long time here on Long Island, I'll have to look through my photos and see what pops up. Right now though, I'm looking forward to seeing some Hellebores, Crocus and Galianthus (snow drops) appear any day now. Last year I shot a photo of a crocus bloom on February 20th.

What perennials do you find have a long bloom season?


Sylvia (England) said...

I have one white double hellebore that flowers all year around. All are long blooming as the flowers last so long, the colour fades. I usually cut off the flowers before they seed to build up the plants but this one plant will send up new stems of flowers during the spring/summer/autumn - whenever it feels like it. I did cut of the flowers last autumn because I was afraid it was going to flower itself to death. It has flowered again this February.

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

garden girl said...

Hi Melanie, That's a beautiful hellibore. I have just one I added last April. When I got it was in bloom, and the blooms lasted through the entire summer and fall.

The hellebore won the longest-blooming perennial prize in my garden last year. First runner-up was Geranium Rozanne, which blooms in my garden from May until frost, even in the shade.

Two more hellebores will be meeting my garden this spring, and I hope they bloom as long as the one that's already here.

Gail said...

Hi Melanie,

You can't beat hellebores. Mine are already blooming and I hope they continue for some time...I did add another one two days ago..a lovely double yellow~~ Golden Lotus. The longest blooming perennials for me was Phlox pilosa (PPPP) and the summer/fall phloxes. The Susans are also long lasting bloomers.


Hà Xuân said...

Melanie, does a perennial "die down" and then come back next year or they just "stay alive" year after year?
I ask because all my plants seem to "stay alive" year after year, but they don't look as pretty as their first year after planting. So I really don't know if my plants are annuals or perennials :-(

Hoot Owl Hollow Nursery said...

It's but a small technicality since hellebores are so pretty, but they really don't bloom for very long. The actual bloom is a tiny thing in the center where the seed pods will form later. What we see are actually calyxes (sp?) and those are what stay around, looking very much like flowers and oh so pretty even though they're not.

Gotta Garden said...

Lovely hellebore! Glad to see you posting again!