ASK THE GARDENERS. Questions & Answers.
Q I often see references to herbaceous perennials. As I understand it, perennials are plants that do not need to be planted each year because the roots will live through the winter. Does the term herbaceous perennial refer to those plants which we commonly call herbs, such as oregano, thyme, sage, tarragon, etc? B. F. Spokane, Wash. Broadly speaking, a perennial is a plant that lives year after year. It may be a tree, shrub, or nonwoody plant. More specifically, a herbaceous perennial is a nonwoody perennial.
The definition of an herb, according to L. H. Bailey (Hortus) is a ``plant naturally dying to the ground; lacking definite woody, firm structure. It may be annual, biennial, or perennial.''
However, we now have a more popular (and now quite accepted) connotation of herb as any plant grown for flavoring or medicinal purposes. These may include annuals, perennials, biennials, and subshrubs (e.g., rosemary and lavender).
If you have a question about your garden, inside or out, send it to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. Doc and Katy Abraham are nationally known horticulturists.