Contrary to popular belief, the upper parts of the Northern Hemisphere don't have the corner on perennials. Lots of plants from milder climes (say, USDA Zones 8, 9, 10, and warmer, right on into the tropics) meet the perennial description. These repeat performers burst forth in warm spring weather, enjoy the summer months, and slow down or die down in the fall, roots still very much alive. They return in glory when the year cycles around to springtime again.
Obviously, you can grow tender perennials with impunity if you're in a mild-climate area. However, everyone else can enjoy them, too: Gardeners just have to get the tender treasures through winter, because these plants can't tolerate or survive cold temperatures. (See the section titled "Preparing perennials for winter," later in this chapter, for details.) Or certainly, you can leave your tender perennials in the garden to perish over the winter — which makes them, essentially, annuals and means you may ending up buying new ones next spring.
Popular examples of tender perennials include angelonia, coleus, gerbera, impatiens, and pentas.
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