Chicago Botanic Garden


Perennial Plants


PHOTO: aster PHOTO: carex PHOTO: goldenrod PHOTO: blue geranium
PHOTO: narcissus PHOTO: gras PHOTO: iris PHOTO: allium
(eulalia grass)
(ornamental onion)

Perennials compose the largest and most extensive collection of plants at the Chicago Botanic Garden. More than half of the 2.4 million plants in the Garden's collection are herbaceous perennials. The Garden's perennial collection is, in fact, the largest in the Midwest, and creates one of the largest public displays in the United States.

The Garden features 3,495 different types of perennials — diverse in form, size, color and texture. Half of the perennials are presented in the 24 display gardens, and the other half may be viewed in natural settings including an oak woodland, a river corridor and along the lakes, and a prairie. This collection shows the public and professionals an extensive and current representation of the best plants for the Midwest and other locales in the same climatic band around the world.

The Chicago Botanic Garden's perennial collection has special depth and diversity in certain key areas. Specialties of the perennial collection are Aster (aster), and Narcissus. Specialties of regional significance include Geranium (geranium), Miscanthus (eulalia) Allium, Carex, Solidago and Iris (iris).

Each year, many of the Garden's nearly 900,000 visitors study our perennials to discover ways to incorporate them into their home gardens. With 75 percent of U.S. households involved in lawn and garden activities, perennials have increasingly become a focus for attention — and are now the fastest-growing segment of the nursery trade.

The 1,270,530 perennials in the Garden's collection represent its largest area of study and have significance in many ways. They provide ever-changing displays of color, texture and form, as well as subjects for research, especially in the Garden's four natural areas. They constitute an important element of the living classroom for students of the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden and for children and teachers throughout the region. In addition, they provide a guide to aid local gardeners and professional horticulturists in their landscape design choices. Finally, they are a repository for rare and unusual taxa and a gene pool for conserving wild-collected species into the future.