Alliums set in a perennial flower bed


Everything you need to know about perennial plants, from definition to examples, we've got you covered in this all-about perennial guide.

What are Perennial plants?

To put it simply. A perennial is a plant which lives for more than two years.

Perennials can persist year after year, which differs from annuals and biennials, which live for one and two years, respectively.


The term perennial is most often used when referring to smaller non-woody, flowering plants.

However, technically, any plant species that lives for more than two years is classed as a perennial, including trees and shrubs.

Tender perennials are plants which can live for more than two years in their native environment. However, they may not persist in colder climates where winters are harsher. Typically, in this case, tender perennials are grown as annuals or require overwintering care.

Perennials that die back for the autumn or winter and return the following spring are called herbaceous perennials.

Perennials that keep their foliage throughout the year are called evergreen perennials.

There are many species of perennial plants, ranging in almost every aspect.

It's worth noting that not all varieties of a particular plant are always perennials. Take poppies, for example, the oriental poppy (Papaver orientale) is a perennial plant, but the common poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is an annual.

Examples of perennial plants

Below is our top pick of perennial plants perfect for growing throughout the garden.

  • Asters

    Pink Aster flowers with bee

    Asters have daisy-like flowers which are usually a shade of pink, although other coloured cultivars exist, such as white, purples, reds, and blues.

    They are very hardy plants, able to survive harsh winters and are relatively low-maintenance.

    A cottage favourite, and are well-suited for flower beds and borders, looking particularly good growing in old stone walls.

    Asters have a long blooming season, flowering well into autumn, providing long-lasting colour.

  • Alliums


    Alliums never fail to capture attention in the garden, often boasting impressive and eye-catching globe-like flower heads.

    While the allium plant family includes well-known edibles like onions, garlic, and chives, it is the ornamental varieties, such as Purple Sensation, Globemaster, and Mt. Everest that are primarily grown for their stunning floral displays.

    They are highly appealing to pollinators, making them a superb choice for bee-friendly gardens.

    While purple is the most commonly grown colour, you'll also find allium varieties in shades of white, pink, and red.

    They're super easy to grow and require minimal care, making them an excellent perennial addition to any garden.

    Read all about Alliums in our guide.

  • Coneflowers

    Purple coneflowers

    Coneflowers are a great choice to add around the garden, named after their cone-shaped disk at the centre of each flower.

    They are tough, drought-tolerant plants requiring little in the way of care. They'll survive through harsh winters coming back year after year.

    Coneflowers produce stunning flowers, and varieties range in colour from pink, white, yellow, red, orange and purple. They vary in height too, with most growing around 3 feet, and some shorter and taller varieties available, making them ideal for the middle or back of flower beds.

    Coneflowers typically bloom from summer well into autumn.

    They're a magnet for pollinators, making them an excellent choice to invite bees and butterflies to the garden.

  • Cyclamen


    Cyclamen produce unique, charming flowers that bloom from autumn to winter.

    While tender cyclamen are typically grown as house plants, hardy perennial cyclamen are grown in the garden.

    In addition to stunning flowers, the leaves of some varieties can have elegant patterns.

    They make fantastic ground cover plants, well suited under deciduous trees or shrubs, providing colour throughout winter.

    They require almost no effort to maintain and, over time, naturalise. When in flower, en-mass, cyclamen can be a real show stopper, creating a blanket effect of flowers.

  • Crocuses


    Small yet captivatingly beautiful, crocuses are a must-have for adding vibrant early-year colours to your garden.

    Flowering from late winter to spring these beauties range in colours from purple, orange, yellow, and white.

    These short plants are perfect for positioning at the front of flowerbeds or border edges.

    These low-maintenance, resilient perennials are bound to catch attention, especially when few other flowers are in bloom, making them an ideal choice for your front garden.

    Here's a fun fact - the spice saffron is derived from the delicate stigmas of the saffron crocus.

  • Dahlias


    It's hard to picture a flower bed in summer without dahlias!

    With their almost endless variety of colours, shapes and sizes, dahlias are a garden must-have.

    These beautiful flowers come in various forms, from near-globe-like perfection to single-flowered bee-friendly types and even those with a somewhat spikey appearance. With such a choice, there is undoubtedly a dahlia to suit any preference.

    Dahlias will begin to bloom at the start of summer and can flower well into late autumn.

    It is worth noting that dahlias are tender perennials, unable to survive unprotected through freezing conditions.

    In colder climates, they are grown either as annuals or will require overwintering care.

    Read all about this and more in our Dahlias guide.

  • Daylily

    Yellow Daylily

    Daylilies are a beloved perennial among gardeners.

    These remarkable plants showcase stunning flowers that bloom for a single day. However, their beauty persists as new flowers repeatably emerge, giving the plant a long blooming season.

    They are well known for their hardiness and require minimal effort to maintain.

    Daylilies come in a wide range of colours, including vibrant orange, fiery red, sunny yellow, pristine white, and beautiful shades of pink and purple.

  • Geums

    Red geums

    Geums are a semi-evergreen perennial plant. They are hardy and generally pest and disease-free, making them low-maintenance plants.

    They are great for flower beds and borders due to their long blooming periods, flowering from mid-spring well into autumn.

    Keep on top of deadheading to ensure their prolonged flowering.

    Geum flowers are typically hot colours, such as red, orange and yellow.

    Plants can reach a height of 35 - 55cm, making them well-suited for mid-row positioning. They make excellent companion plants. Pairing well with a wide range of flowers, such as poppies, alliums, hardy geraniums and more.

  • Hardy geraniums

    Purple hardy geraniums

    Hardy geraniums are favoured among gardeners for their broad appeal and delightful blooms.

    These plants are known for their resilience and require minimal maintenance, making them an ideal choice for the less "green-thumbed".

    With their abundant flowers, they are attractive to bees and other pollinators.

    They range in colour from various shades of purple, white, pink to blue.

    Their spreading nature makes them ideal for ground cover.

  • Hellebore


    Hellebore is an evergreen perennial plant.

    They begin to flower in winter and continue to bloom into spring.

    Their early flowering makes them a great plant to bring colour when most other plants are still dormant, making them a treat for any early pollinators.

    They range in colour, such as purple, pink, green, and white.

    They are hardy, low-maintenance plants.

  • Iris


    With a wide range of cultivars available, irises can complement various areas throughout the garden.

    Some varieties are early spring bloomers, whilst others bloom into summer.

    They are hardy, relatively low-maintenance plants.

    They vary widely in colour, including shades of purple, blue, white, yellow, and even black (very deep purple). Additionally, they typically feature striking patterns or markings on their petals.

    These attributes make them well-suited for flower beds, pots, and borders, and they also look great around water features.

  • Japanese anemone

    Japanese anemone

    Japanese anemones produce a wealth of delicate-looking flowers from mid-summer through to autumn.

    These beauties can grow in full sun or partial shade.

    They make excellent feature plants on their own or among borders.

    However, Japanese anemones are well known to be garden bullies. As left to their accord, they can spread, taking over borders.

    Flowers are typically pink or white. However, some shades of purple exist.

    They are very resilient, hardy plants, requiring little attention.

    Remember to keep on top of them to stop them spreading where they shouldn't, and they'll make a stunning addition to the garden.

  • Lupins

    Multiple pink lupins

    Lupins are a must-have for achieving that classic cottage garden look.

    These beauties are known for their vibrant colours and striking flower spikes. They come in a wide range of colours, including white, yellow, purple, blue, red, and pink. Some varieties even feature bi-coloured flowers.

    Lupins are hardy and low-maintenance plants. They are also excellent self-seeders, spreading easily in the garden.

    Read all about Lupins in our guide.

  • Peony


    When it comes to perennial plants, the peony has it all!

    Stunning blooms, fragrant, super hardy, resilient and long-living, there isn't much the peony doesn't bring to the table.

    There is a wide range of peonies to choose from. They vary in characteristics, such as colour, scent and flower appearance.

    Peonies make great additions to flowerbeds, borders, or even grown-in containers.

    Flowers vary from large, showy, double-flowered blooms to open single flowers. They make exquisite cut flowers.

    Most peonies are scented, but not all, and fragrance can vary between varieties.

    Peonies are long-living, with some surviving for over a hundred years.

    Needless to say. The peony is a must-have for the garden.

  • Sneezeweed


    It's hard to ignore sneezeweed blooming in mass with their showy daisy-like flowers.

    They make excellent border plants, producing an abundance of flowers from summer into autumn.

    In addition to being attractive to the eye, their domed flowers entice bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

    Their flowers are typically hot, fiery colours, such as orange, red and yellow.

    Sneezeweed makes an ideal companion plant for coneflowers and rudbeckia due to their similar appearance.

    Fully hardy and low-maintenance, sneezweed is a no-brainer for border planting.


So there we have it. Now you know what a perennial plant is, including its characteristics.

Perennials can bring so much to the garden year after year. From stunning blooms to year-round foliage, there's a perennial plant for any growing environment.

And if you're interested in growing perennial vegetables, then be sure to check out this article on 10 Perennial Vegetables To Grow For Repeat Cropping.