Perennial vs. Evergreen —What’s the Difference?

Perennial is a broad category of plant life cycles or lifespan that defines plants that live longer for many years compared to other categories such as annual (finish their lives in one growing season) and biennial (two growing seasons). Whereas evergreen is a subcategory of perennial plants alongside deciduous, herbaceous perennial, and semi-deciduous, in which evergreen plants keep their leaves all year. It can also bloom in cycles. 

What Is an Evergreen Perennial?

Compared to herbaceous perennials, which lose their leaves every winter, evergreen perennials can keep their green for several weeks longer. This means that evergreen perennials typically need less maintenance than their non-evergreen counterparts.

Evergreen perennials are a beautiful choice that will give your garden a splash of bright color all year long. They don’t need to be trimmed back when it gets cold to keep growing, and they don’t need much care in the winter.

Great Evergreen Perennial Plants

Evergreen Perennials for Sun


Iberis sempervirens

It is a woody subshrub with perennial tendencies. Though evergreen in milder climates, it typically functions as a clumping perennial that loses its leaves each winter. In late spring and early summer, candytuft brightens gardens with its abundance of white or pink blossoms and small, oblong, leathery leaves.

Rock Cress

Aubrieta deltoidea

It is a hardy alpine, perennial flower that grows in Europe. This species has leaves that can be green or gray. This species grows into mats and is often grown as a decorative ground cover.


Salvia rosmarinus

Rosemary is a fragrant herb that grows in the Mediterranean and stays green all year. It is used as a seasoning in food, to make perfumes, and because it might be good for your health.

Hens and Chicks

Sempervivum tectorum

Hens and chicks are succulent plants that are native to Europe and Africa. These plants, also known as houseleeks, have rings of leaves that form a rosette and look like an artichoke. The colors of hens and chicks plants are green, blue, copper purple, and red.


Lavandula angustifolia

This perennial garden plant can be used for many different things and shouldn’t just be put in the corner of the herb garden. The flowers and greenish-gray leaves add color and contrast to a perennial border, rock garden, herb garden, or scented garden in the middle of summer. It can be especially powerful when there are a lot of them. In some places, it works well as an edger or low hedge. Flowers with a strong scent can be dried and put in sachets or potpourris.

Evergreen Perennials for Shade

Coral Bells

Heuchera sanguinea

Coral bells can be used in many ways in the garden and landscape. You can plant them in groups, along edges, as a single plant, or in pots. Use it in a mixed perennial border or a woodland shade garden with other perennials that like the shade, like bleeding heart, iris, and astilbe. Other natural partners are hostas, impatiens, ferns, and caladiums.

Lenten Rose

Helleborus x hybridus

People like the Lenten rose because it blooms early in the season in traditional colors like white, pink, and light rose-purple. It also has leathery evergreen leaves. Many cultivars come in a wide range of colors. Some older heirloom varieties have flowers that face down, but the newer hybrids have blooms that face up or out.


Pulmonaria officinalis

Lungwort is a perennial groundcover that grows in the Boraginaceae (borage) family and likes to grow in the shade. Its common name, “Lungwort,” comes from herbalists in the Middle Ages who thought the plant helped treat lung diseases. This is because the spots on the leaves looked like a sick person’s lungs.

Mondo Grass

Ophiopogon spp.

Monkey grass is another name for Mondo grass. It is an evergreen perennial that makes an excellent groundcover or grass-like plant on its own. These plants thrive in nearly all soil types and lighting conditions. Once established, Mondo grass is a slow-growing plant easily propagated by division and requires minimal maintenance. It is well worth the gardener’s time to learn how to cultivate mondo grass, which is an exceptionally beautiful and versatile landscape plant.

Sweet Flag

Acorus calamus

The sweet flag is a popular choice for gardeners who want an evergreen perennial with stunning blue flowers. It grows quickly and spreads by rooting in the soil. Because it thrives in medium to wet soils, it can also be used as a groundcover or alongside other water-loving plants.