The science behind plants and growing cycles

Herbaceous – Plants which do not develop a persistent woody structure above ground. Their stems leaves usually die in Winter

Perennials – Herbaceous plant which has an on going cycle of growing, season by season for more than one or two years

Annuals – Herbaceous plant which has a growing cycle of just one year for a season before they die.  The Annuals are divided into ‘Hardy’ and ‘Half Hardy’ plants.  Hardy Annuals have a tolerance to survive normal UK winters, whereas Half Hardy Annuals cannot withstand frost.

To quote the well known saying “Never cast a cloud until May is out”. After May, it is when all of the frosts should have gone and is a good time for the bedding season to start.

Biennials – Herbaceous plant which has a cycle of two years during their season before they die.

Ephemeral – A plant that goes through a number of cycles per year. Whilst normally considered a weed, certain species can be an ideal variation to your garden.

Deciduous – Plants which lose their leaves in winter.  This applies for trees which lose their leaves to conserve water.  An example of this is the Japanese Maple.  Its latin name is Acer palmatum.

Evergreen – Some plants are able to retain their leaves all the time.  Examples of these are conifers, some trees and shrubs.  An example of this is holly.  Its latin name is Ilex aquifolium.

Semi Evergreen Some plants are dependent on the weather and/or season which determines whether they retain or lose their leaves.  The milder the winter, the more likely some plants are to retain them.  However, the harsher the winter, the less likely plants are to retain their leaves.  An example of this is Burkwood Viburnum.  Its latin name is Viburnum x burkwoodii.

If you would like to see a plant or flower blooming year by year without too much maintenance perennials are a very good choice.

But if you like a bit of difference as the years go by with varying plants or colours, biennials are another good option.

Come and see one of our volunteers for help or guidance in choosing a plant to suit your needs and interests. We can offer ideas and advice if you have particular garden spaces or shady and/or sunny spots.