Gardening with Perennials

clematisPerennials

 

Perennial plants are the backbone of every successful landscape. They are available in a wide range of sizes, colors and blooming seasons. Perennials grow and bloom over the spring and summer and then die back every autumn and winter. They reappear in the spring and are larger and fuller.

 

Typically, they grow from their root stock rather than seeding themselves as an annual plant does. These are herbaceous perennials. However, depending on the rigors of  your local climate, a plant that is a perennial in its native habitat, may have to be treated as an annual.  In other words, in colder climates you will have to plant some perennials every year.

 

Some of the more popular perennial plant categories include: hosta, daylily, iris, echinacea, peony, ferns, grasses, phlox, heuchera, astilbe. and more.  Proven Winners  offers some of the most popular varieties available.  Part of the joy of gardening with perennial plants is discovering new plant introductions from family, friends and our knowledgeable staff.

 

SOIL PREPARATION

Choose the right plants for the right locations. Then it’s time to plant. Check your soil to see if it needs any amendments. Perennials generally require loamy, well-drained soil for good growth. Organic matter is beneficial to most herbaceous plants. Examples of organic matter are peat moss, compost and manure. Soil prep is important to do BEFORE you plant.  It is difficult to amend the soil once the plants have become established.

 

  • Loosen the soil at least 18″ deep
  • Till or dig in 4-6″ of organic material
  • Check soil pH – most plants prefer a slightly acidic soil – 6.0-6.5

 

WHEN TO PLANT

Plant container grown perennials any time during the growing season.  It is recommended not to plant perennials later than late August – September. This allows the roots  to get established before winter.  Mulch can help conserve moisture and insulate roots during winter.

 

HOW TO PLANT

Carefully remove container and loosen roots to encourage lateral growth. Cut off the bottom inch if the roots are in a dense mat. This will stimulate new growth and the plant will establish more quickly. Be sure to plant at the same soil level as it was in the container.

WATERING

Carefully monitor new plantings for water. Checking the first 3-4″ of soil will help determine if plants need to be watered. Over-watered and dry plants produce the same “wilted” look. So be sure you are watering correctly. Ideally, watering should be done in the morning to prevent fungal growth.

 

FERTILIZING

Proper soil preparation is the best way to feed your perennials. However, a light application of 5-10-5 is useful to give your plants a boost in spring. Another application in mid to late summer is useful if you have poor soil or the spring was exceptionally wet.

 

PLANT DIVISION

Some perennials may never need to be divided, but most will benefit from being taken out and divided every few years. Reasons for dividing plants include decreased flowering, die-out in the center or if the plant has just grown too big for the space.