Worth The Wait: Perennials That Require Patience

by Amanda

Trillium can take several years to establish in the garden and bloom, but are definitely worth the wait!

As much as we all love the instant gratification of easy-to-grow varieties such as Black Eyed Susan, Daylilies and Echinacea, gardening isn’t just about that quick color – it’s also about challenging ourselves to do better and create a landscape we’re proud of.

And even if you’re not tackling the trickier varieties in your garden, it’s important to be patient for perennials that may take 2-3 years to become the show-stopping statement you’re looking for.

Woodland perennials, particularly Jack in the Pulpit and Trillium, create stunning early-season color in shady spots in the garden. Both are fairly easy to grow as long as they are planted in moist, rich soil. However, these woodlands do take 2-3 years after being planted to establish themselves and delight with their delicate blooms in the early spring. So if you’re looking to create a woodland garden, remember to have patience! Learn more about growing woodlands in our article.

Customer photo Hibiscus, which doesn't look like much when first planted but eventually produces huge blooms.

Customer photo Hibiscus, which doesn't look like much when first planted but eventually produces huge blooms.

Peonies are some of the most treasured perennials in the late spring garden, but can also be some of the most challenging. However, if you can stick it out, these fragrant beauties have been known to come back in the same spot for decades. Tree and Itoh Peonies are especially challenging, taking several years to produce blooms. Make sure you’re growing Peonies in full sun with good, well-draining soil and planting the bareroots at the correct depth to ensure blooms. Learn more about growing Peonies in our blog.

There are several colorful perennials that aren’t particularly challenging to grow, but do take 2-3 years to bloom. Lavender is a must-have for any sunny spot and takes several years to become established in the garden. In its first year Hardy Hibiscus resembles a tiny, lifeless stick, but after a few seasons you’ll be delighted with colorful blooms larger than your head. Clematis starts growing small at first, but will take off and flourish in your garden in about two years, climbing up anything you’ll let it.

Butterfly Weed is the epitome of a plant that is definitely worth the wait. This native perennial prefers full sun and can take several seasons to take off, but once established it becomes a buffet for all sorts of pollinators. Birds, butterflies and bees will be coming to and from your garden all summer long.

Asparagus

Asparagus can't be fully harvested until the third season, but produces each year after.

Perennial vegetables, including Asparagus and Rhubarb, take extreme patience – about three years – from planting time to harvest, but are definitely worth it. Asparagus prefers well-draining soil, as much sun as possible and should not be harvested fully until its third season. After this initial harvest, you’ll be delighted with a harvest each year after. Learn more about growing Asparagus in our blog. Plant Rhubarb in early spring as soon as your ground is thawed and make sure to plant it in a contained area – this hardy vegetable will multiply each year and could take over if not divided and re-planted. You’ll have to wait about three seasons for the first harvest but will be rewarded with a plentiful bounty of Rhubarb each year after.

This season, try investing your time and patience into several of these varieties. We promise they are worth the wait!

  1. Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina, Lady Fern

    The Lady Fern is a smaller woodland fern with a distinctive look. With finely-cut, almost frilly fronds, this one is beautifully decorative and a lovely addtion to the shade garden....

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    Lady Fern Lady Fern Athyrium filix-femina
    As low as $11.99 Sale $10.79
    Per Bag of 3
    The Lady Fern is a smaller woodland fern with a distinctive look. With finely-cut, almost frilly fronds, this one is beautifully decorative and a lovely addtion to the shade garden. Although Lady Ferns are more tolerant of dry soils than other ferns, adequate moisture is a must if planted in sunny spots. (Athyrium filix-femina)
  2. Christmas Fern, Polystichum acrostichoides, Christmas Fern, Photo Credit Wasp32---Own-work, CC BY 4.0

    Christmas fern will provide your garden with four seasons of deep, evergreen beauty. A deer-resistant native of the Eastern United States, this robust, easy fern is a terrific choic...

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    Christmas Fern Christmas Fern Polystichum acrostichoides
    As low as $11.99 Sale $10.79
    Per Bag of 3
    Christmas fern will provide your garden with four seasons of deep, evergreen beauty. A deer-resistant native of the Eastern United States, this robust, easy fern is a terrific choice for erosion control on shady and partly-shaded slopes, and is easily divisible for gardeners with large areas to cover.(Polystichum acrostichoides)
  3. Shady Nook Fern Collection

    The Shady Nook Fern Collection adds a touch of grace to the garden with smooth lines of flowing foliage. A soothing color palette blends layers of cool green and blue with silver and...

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    Shady Nook Fern Collection Shady Nook Fern Collection
    $37.32 Sale $31.72
    Per Collection of 7
    The Shady Nook Fern Collection adds a touch of grace to the garden with smooth lines of flowing foliage. A soothing color palette blends layers of cool green and blue with silver and burgundy accents. These deer-resistant plants are perfect for naturalizing in woodland gardens and other shady sites. Three unique growth habits make for an eye-catching grouping. Three plants.
  4. Ostrich Fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris, Ostrich Fern

    The Ostrich Fern is a grand, native plant from the Eastern American woodlands. Unfurling in a fiddlehead shape, it gets its name from the open plumes that resemble ostrich feathers. ...

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    Ostrich Fern Ostrich Fern Matteuccia struthiopteris
    As low as $13.32 Sale $11.32
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    The Ostrich Fern is a grand, native plant from the Eastern American woodlands. Unfurling in a fiddlehead shape, it gets its name from the open plumes that resemble ostrich feathers. Like most ferns, this one prefers a cool, moist spot and will spread and thrive in any wet, shady area of the garden. A notably graceful plant. (Matteuccia struthiopteris).
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