Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

What are Perennial Plants?

Perennial plants are plants that live for two or more years. Perennial plants grow for several years and go through repeated flowering and seed producing cycles before they die or put out one seed production cycle, and then die. Perennial plantings serve as a foundation for your garden and can serve various purposes such as:

•  attracting wildlife and providing habitat for beneficial insects such as pollinators and predators

•  food production (such as fruit trees and vines)

•  medicinal uses

•  ornamental uses

Perennial plants are usually easier to maintain than annual vegetable crops and once planted perennials provide a place of beauty and interest for years to come.
 

There are many considerations to take into account when selecting perennials:

•  evergreen vs. deciduous (green year-round or lose their leaves)

•  flowering, fruiting months and colors – it makes most sense choose plants that will fruit or flower when school is in session.

•  size and structure – will the mature size of the plant your are planting fit properly in the space you are planting it?

•  uses of plant (culinary herbs, ornamental uses, medicinal uses, habitat, food production, ect)

•  light requirements – will the plant you are planting receive the appropriate amount of light throughout the year

•  appropriate climatic zones

 

Climate Zones for Perennial Plants

To determine which plants are suitable for a climate zone gardeners refer to plant hardiness charts or “climate zones”.

There are two zone charts that are commonly used in the western region: the USDA Zone and the Sunset Western Garden Zones.

The USDA Zones range from 1-13, with one being a colder zone with annual average minimum temperature of –50F or below and 13 being a warmer zone annual average minimum temperature of 40F or above. In California most locations fall between zone 7-10.

View the USDA Zone map.

The Sunset Garden Zones are similar to the USDA Zones but are more detailed allowing for a more specific match of a plant's ideal environmental preferences and a location's climate. There are 24 Sunset zones and the Sunset Western Garden Book is an indispensable resource that lists thousands of plants, their zones and growing information for the Western US.

Learn more about Sunset's climate zones.

To find out your specific zone ask your nursery professional, contact your County's Master Gardener www.mastergardeners.org , or view the zone maps listed above.

To find out what zone a particular plant will thrive in refer to the plant label or a resource such as the Western Garden Book or website.

Here are a few more points to consider when planting perennials:

  • “Herbaceous” perennial plants die back to the ground in the winter and regrow in the spring, “Woody or Deciduous” perennials lose their leaves but not their structure, and “Evergreen” perennials keep their leaves during the winter. Keep these characteristics in mind when planning your garden's design.
  • Evergreen perennials can be planted any time of the year, but for most of California the best time of year is in the fall. This allows plants root systems to get established before their growing season and to take advantage of winter rains.
  • Bare root perennials such as fruit trees and vines should be planted in the dormant season (winter months or late winter months if your ground is frozen).
  • Most bulbs are planted in the fall for spring blooming dates.

Introduction to Perennial Plants

Selecting Fruit Trees & Vines for CA School Gardens

Growing California Natives

Suggested Perennials and Perennial Themed Gardens

 

Learn about edible crop planning and planting annual crops

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13 hours ago

Life Lab

Join us for Life Lab’s Annual Benefit Brunch! Complimentary delicious meal and an inspiring program. 😋

Event is complimentary, and we hope to inspire you to make a meaningful donation toward growing healthy children! 🌱

Sunday, May 19th // 11am-1:30pm // MacQuiddy Elementary, Watsonville

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18 hours ago

Life Lab

Be part of our Garden Classroom workshops. Join educators from all over the country and possibly from around the world. Continual Education Credit is available for most of our workshops.

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6 days ago

Life Lab

It was an absolute pleasure working with such a stellar group of educators. Thank you all for the great work you are doing at MDUSD Science and Garden Education Program.

We look forward to working with you in the near future."This is the best day of work EVER!" -Direct quote from a teacher participant in yesterday’s "NGSS in the Garden" workshop at Sun Terrace Elementary by Life Lab. Whitney Cohen led classroom teachers from 6 different elementary schools in an amazing, in-depth training on how to implement the new Next Generation Science Standards in that tried-and-true method of "learning by doing". On the agenda were 3 sample lessons, lots more demoed garden activities, debriefs with deep dives into the 3 strands of the NGSS, and practical exercises on how to plan new lessons using the 5E’s and how to "NGSS-ify" existing science lessons. What a day!

Out heartfelt thanks to Battery Powered for making this workshop possible! See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

PSSST!!! Keep this between us but we still have very limited spaces for our Garden Sprouts Camp for 4-6 year olds. Spaces are filling up fast.

More details and registration at www.lifelab.org/camp/ See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

🌱Moment of the Month🌱

We hosted a gathering of Central Coast school garden educators and allies in March at Life Lab’s birthplace, Green Acres Elementary School in Live Oak. It was great to see old and new friends there and share updates from many local school garden programs.

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Our friends at the Children & Nature Network are hosting the 2019 Children & Nature Network International Conference in Oakland, California, May 16-18, 2019. We’ll be there — and we hope you’ll join us at this premier gathering of leaders, advocates and activists from the children and nature movement. You’ll be inspired by three days of powerful keynotes, expertly-curated workshops, field trips and events designed to support the work you do to connect children, families and communities to nature. Help spread the word and get the conversation going at #CNC2019. See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Life Lab is turning 40 this year! There is nothing that would make us happier than to reconnect with you.

🌱Have you attended a Life Lab summer camp or field trip?

🐞Are you a past intern?

🍏Have we made a meaningful difference in your life?

If so, please share your story by using #MyLifeLab or email us at manny@lifelab.org. We would love to share your stories with the world! See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Come explore the garden and farm with us! Our camp days will include harvesting, making garden snacks, exploring the farm, singing, storytelling, garden caretaking, garden crafts, and investigation of the natural world. This camp serves 24 campers with a 1:6 ratio of instructors to campers, allowing us to tailor camp activities to the ages and interests of our campers.

Hurry, limited spaces are filling fast! Most slots are taken. We only have Tues/Thurs available for 4-6 year olds. ALL other ages are filled. For more info and register click here bit.ly/2FC277X?platform=hootsuite&utm_campaign=HSCampaign . For questions contact Amy at (831)-459-4035 or email amy@lifellab.org See MoreSee Less

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Life Lab has been the most innovative and relevant organization in this field. From providing the best curriculum to their cutting edge professional development, we have relied on Life Lab as our go to organization for support, ideas, and collaboration.
Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside
Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom