The Q&A Archives: Non-flowering Perennials

Question: I just purchased a home and my yard is in need of some TLC. I'm interested in planting non-flowering perennials in a yard that gets a lot of sun. What types of perennials would you recommend other than hostas?

Answer: Non-flowering plants include ferns, clubmosses, horsetails, mosses, lichens, and fungi. These are spore-producing plants, a major feature distinguishing them from the seed-producing flowering plants. Although the non-flowering plants lack beautiful flowers, you will find that they are attractive and interesting in their own right. The following are suitable for shady sites:

Ferns are green plants with leaves, often called fronds, that resemble fiddleheads in spring before they unroll. Some you might consider include: sensitive fern, royal fern, ostrich fern, bracken fern, rusty woodsia fern, and common, or golden polypody, fern.

Clubmosses are perennial, evergreen plants with creeping stems that send up erect branches. Although small, they are much larger than the ordinary mosses they resemble. These are not suitable for sunny sites, but for shady areas, consider shining clubmoss, stiff or bristly clubmoss, and running pine, also called ground pine or ground cedar.

Mosses are tiny green plants that grow on soil, rocks, and trees. You will usually find them in moist places, such as swamps and bogs. Some common mosses you will see in the waterway are sphagnum, or peat, mosses in bogs and swamps, haircap mosses on damp ground, and pin cushion mosses in moist woods on soil and decayed wood.

For sunny sites, how about planting junipers, cypress, yew, or boxwood?

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