Mobile Menu MENU


Sleep, Creep, Leap: How Perennial Plants Grow

Sleep, Creep, Leap: How Perennial Plants Grow


Are you dreaming of a perennial garden that bursts with life and offers a symphony of colors and textures year after year? The key to unlocking the full potential of your garden lies in understanding the growth cycle famously summarized by gardeners as “sleep, creep, leap.” This simple concept can transform how you approach gardening to cultivate a lush, vibrant garden with patience and insight.

Understanding the Perennial Phases

The life cycle of perennial plants can be mystifying, especially if you’re new to gardening. Unlike annuals, which complete their life cycle in one year, perennials take their time, beautifully unfolding over three years. Here’s what you can expect in each phase:

Perennial plants at Strange's.

Year One: Sleep

In their first year, perennials are often busy beneath the surface. This phase is all about ‘sleep’ — not a literal slumber, but a period of intense root development. During this stage, perennials might not look very active or impressive above ground, but underground, it’s a different story. They are expanding their root systems to absorb nutrients and water efficiently. This foundation is crucial for the plant’s future growth and bloom.

Support your sleepy perennials by providing them with well-prepared soil, sufficient water, and a layer of mulch to maintain moisture and temperature. Remember, they’re putting down roots to sustain them for years to come!

Perennial plants at Strange's.

Year Two: Creep

As perennials enter their second year, they start to ‘creep.’ During this stage, you’ll notice more visible growth, as the plants begin to fill out above ground. The root system continues to develop, supporting an increase in foliage and the first hints of flowering. This is an exciting time as the garden starts to come alive with more substantial plant forms and varied textures.

Although perennials in their creeping phase are more established and require less pampering, they still benefit from ongoing care such as weeding and proper spacing to ensure they don’t compete for resources.

Perennial plants at Strange's.

Year Three: Leap

Year three is when the magic truly happens. Perennials ‘leap’ into full glory — robust foliage and vibrant blooms showcase the plant’s mature stage. This leap is not just a visual treat; it’s a celebration of the perennial’s life cycle reaching its peak. Your garden will likely look its best, with each plant displaying its full potential.

This stage is your reward for the nurturing and patience over the past two years. It’s a testament to the resilience and enduring beauty of perennials.

Perennial plants at Strange's.


The ‘sleep, creep, leap’ cycle is more than just a gardening adage; it’s a proven strategy to develop a thriving, sustainable garden. By understanding and respecting these natural growth phases, you cultivate beautiful plants and a deeper connection to the cycle of life they represent. So, embrace the journey of your perennial garden. Remember that great gardens are not made overnight but over time. Your patience and attentiveness will be richly rewarded with a stunning display that evolves with each passing year.

If you have any questions that weren’t answered or need more information, feel free to stop by and see us at either the Broad St. or Mechanicsville location. You can also give us a call or drop us an email at We’re here to help you grow better! 

Connect with Strange’s: 

Instagram: @StrangesRVA             Facebook: @Strange’s Florist 

Mechanicsville: 804-321-2200      West Broad: 804-360-2800 

Follow Us

Mastercard Visa American Express Discover McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams

©2024 Strange's Florists. All rights reserved.
Website design by Torx Media