“Returnees”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana
When I first started gardening, it was at a time when annuals with just a few flowering perennials was the way to go in a garden. Several of my neighbors were retired and had the time to do the high maintenance annuals can often require, and their yards and gardens were gorgeous with flowers and hanging baskets. So colorful, so lush, so beautiful. Many of their flowering plants were not really annuals but tender perennials especially here just off the warm waters of the Gulf Coast.
At first, I started with annuals but quickly realized that perennials were what was really needed in a garden. I have tried to plant so that there will be something blooming year round, and with our mild climate, I have just about been able to do that. But, one of the mainstays of the garden has been the tender perennials. They may be nipped back by the occasional freeze, but they return and with an established root system, recover very quickly. Now, the ones I am referring to are the ones that make it through winter with only mulch as protection, I am not talking about the ones that I protect with coverings of plastic or bring in the house.
This year the wax begonias surprised me by overwintering. I have planted them in containers or hanging baskets which would be brought in and protected during a freeze, but this it the first year I had planted them in the garden. I fully expected them to bite the dust with the first freeze, but they didn’t. We have cold, wet winters which is often a death knell for plants because if the cold doesn’t get them, the rot usually does. But, this year, all of the white wax begonias and it seems that just about all the red wax begonias have survived and are already blooming.
All of the lantanas overwinter here, too. I was surprised to find that is not true in many areas. I have a fuchsia-colored one, and I do have to admit that it is always slow to come back. Right now it has only a few small leaves whereas all the others have grown and are blooming or have buds. I have the white in containers, and they made it through fine.
The salvias have been returning after winter for years. Coral nymph and Lady in Red do return and, of course, seedlings are there if they would not.
I have had impatiens coming back for years. In fact, I no longer have to buy them because, no matter how cold our winters, a few always survive. There must be little micro-climates in the yard that allow them to make it until spring.
The pentas are starting to come back also. I have had pentas that return for years, but this is not a given because sometimes they do not come back. I don’t know if it may be they are too old or the weather just got too cold on particular years. So, I never count on them returning but welcome them if they do.
Other plants that return for us are gladiolus, canna, and bannanas. I don’t know if I would grow these if I had to dig them up in the fall like so many gardeners north of us must do. The gladiolus plants are already large, and the cannas are growing more each day.
Night blooming jasmine and fire spike also return each year. These returning plants allow for the year round flowers and help make gardening easier. One really nice thing is the money issue. I don’t know if these returning plants save me money or just allow me to have more plants since I probably spend the same each year. While using more perennials in my garden has been my goal these last few years, I am thankful for these returning plants which save me time, money and effort.