Course CodeBHT316
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Perennial Flower Gardening Course

  • Learn to identify, select and grow perennial plants for floral and foliage displays.
  • A course for nurserymen, gardeners, garden designers, plant breeders, plant collectors -anyone with a passion for perennials.


Scope of the Course

This course is broad in scope, covering all types of perennials. It provides a pathway to learning about perennials that also allows each individual student to make choices about the types of perennials they wish to focus their attention on.

In many of the tasks you carry out, you will have an opportunity to focus on the genera that most interest you; and receive mentoring from horticultural experts, to help develop your knowledge with respect to those genera.

Perennials cover a wide range of plants including both ornamental and useful plants. There are perennial plants for all situations.

Botanists may call perennials any plants that live for several years (ie. anything that is not an annual or a biennial). Gardeners and horticulturists however, generally refer to perennials as plants which have softer tissue (ie. are not woody), as well as living for several years.

The term biennial is also sometimes used, referring to a plant that lives for and completes its life cycle in 2 years. A perennial may therefore be distinguished from annuals and biennials as having a longer lifespan than those two types of plants.

Horticulturists and gardeners commonly think of two types of perennials:

  • herbaceous perennials
  • evergreen perennials

Herbaceous perennials die back for during part of the year. Commonly, the whole of the top of the plant may die back, leaving a crown or swelling at ground level, and the roots below. Some however may only loose part of the top growth. Evergreen perennials maintain leaves (at least some) throughout all seasons.


Lesson Structure

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Physiology
    • Information sources
  2. Culture
    • Planting
    • Staking
    • Mulching
    • Watering
    • Feeding
    • Pruning, etc.
  3. Propagation and Hybridization
    • Seed
    • Pricking out seedlings
    • Cuttings
    • Factors affecting cutting strike
    • Propagating media
    • Types of cuttings
    • Hardening off young plants
    • Division
    • Separation
    • Layering
    • Potting mixes
    • Potting up
  4. Review of Major Types of Perennials
    • Herbaceous perennials
    • Establishing herbaceous plants
    • Popular bulbs, corms and tubers
    • Supporting herbaceous plants
    • Herbs in a perennial border
    • Wildflower meadows
    • Maintaining herbaceous borders
    • Perennials for different purposes/uses
    • Artemisia
    • Lavandula
    • Scented Geraniums
    • Ornamental; grasses
    • Bamboos
  5. Pests and Disease
    • Plant pathology
    • Parasitic and non parasitic problems
    • Conducting an inspection and identifying problems
    • Tell tale symptoms
    • Common terminology
    • Common pests on perennials and their management
    • Diseases
  6. Water Management
    • Significance of water
    • Infiltration and water retention
    • Water needs for perennials
    • Watering methods
    • When to water
    • Testing water needs
    • Reducing water needs
    • Watering perennials in pots
    • Drip irrigation
    • Hydroponics Introduction
    • Types of hydroponic systems
  7. Landscaping with Perennials
    • Designing the garden
    • Landscape principles and components
    • Landscape effects
    • Design styles
    • Flower bed design
    • Colour themes
    • Cottage gardens
    • What perennials to grow in cottage gardens
    • Scented plants
    • Landscaping with bulbs
  8. Further Uses for Perennials
    • Cut Flowers
    • What flowers the longest
    • Harvest and storage
    • Growing Carnations
    • Chrysanthemums
    • Herbs
    • Herb crafts


  • Describe the identification of Perennial Plants
  • Determine sources of further information for identifying and growing different varieties of perennials.
  • Discuss a variety of cultural techniques used to improve success in growing of different perennial plants
  • Determine the propagation of different perennial plants.
  • Discuss the horticulture of a range of commonly grown perennial genera.
  • Discuss the management of pests and diseases occurring on a range of perennial plants.
  • Manage irrigation and drainage to ensure optimum water levels are maintained for healthy growth in perennials.
  • Determine appropriate use of perennials in a range of horticultural situations.
  • Describe a variety of uses for perennials.

Some Perennials to Grow


Garden-gate Plants:

Tall Bearded Iris

Flower colour range, season spring/summer, height 60-90cm

Day Lilies (Hemerocallis)

Flower colour range, season early/mid summer, height 75cm



Border Plants:


Dwarf flowers in summer, tall flowers in autumn

Anthemis tinctoria

Yellow/cream, 30cm


60cm, early summer, attractive foliage and flowers


Yellow/brown, late summer-autumn, 60-125cm


Yellow, 1.25m, late summer



Accent Plants:

Cynara carduncaulus

1m high, 2m wide, attractive foliage

Miscanthus sinensis

2m, decorative foliage (many cultivars)


To 1.5m, strap-like attractive foliage (many cultivars

Romneya coulteri

2m, white/yellow flowers summer-autumn (sheltered position)


Cream bells in summer-autumn, 2m, attractive rosette foliage



Foliage Plants:

Arum italicum

Attractive foliage, 45cm ( a weed in some countries)

Bergenia cordifolia

Round leathery, 25cm very drought tolerant

Eomecon chionanthum

Fig like leaf, ht.30cm

Dianella species

Flax-like small plant, 70cm (blue flowers and berries)

Diplarrhena morea

Iris-like foliage, 75cm

Heracleum mantegazzianum

Large, coarsely divided, 3 high


Especially the variegated leaf variety, reed-like foliage,

Lavatera olbia

Vine-shaped leaves, 2m

Melianthus species

Grey-green fingered foliage, up to 2m high

Orthrosanthus multiflorus

Iris-like foliage, 75cm

Paeonia species

Deeply divided foliage, ht up to 2m

Patersonia glauca

Iris-like foliage, 45cm

Perennials for under Trees:


Cyclamen sp.

Attractive foliage and flowers, bulbous

Euphorbia robbiae

Rosettes of dark rounded foliage

Helleborus sp.

Divided leaves, low habit, attractive flowers

Pachysandra terminalis

Low, evergreen, dense, 10cm high


The basis for understanding different plants is to first understand the families. When you do this you gave a framework to attach your knowledge to. Plants in a family share common characteristics: are propagated similarly, often require similar water and soil conditions, and are able to be pruned similarly - even if they don't necessarily look similar.  Consider just one family that contains a lot of perennial species:

Find Out More about Perennials -Talk with one of our Horticulturists.
Explore the potential of these plants; and how you can learn about perennials through this course.

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