are forgiving plants that re-appear each year growing and blooming for
extended periods. Most perennials are long lived bringing many years
Perennials come in many
forms. Some will retain their foliage year round (evergreen), while
others (herbaceous) recede into dormancy, and after a short rest,
produce abundant new foliage and flowers.
Proper soil preparation
is the single most important factor in having success with perennials.
Organics will retain moisture in summer and improve drainage during winter.
In addition, by incorporating fertilizer you will provide nutrients
essential to sustain growth and promote flowers.
Once the soil is
properly prepared you are ready to plant. Amend your soil with Bumper Crop or Paydirt. Planting early in the day is best. Remove the plant from its container
(root ball intact) and set deep enough into the soil so that the roots are
well covered and the plant is securely anchored. Water thoroughly and
check frequently for the first few days until it has “settled in” to its
environment. I f you cannot plant perennials right away, water them
thoroughly and shelter them in the shade and out of the wind.
deeply early in the morning once or twice per week. Most perennials
prefer deep infrequent waterings.
will cool the soil, eliminate weeds and
reduce moisture loss. Black Forest Compost is excellent for
both mulching and amending the planting site.
every six weeks throughout the growing season. Apply Best 16-16-16 or Master Nursery All-Purpose Plant Food (water soluble).
any leggy growth and remove faded/spent flowers in order to promote new
foliage and flower production.
Most perennials enter a dormant period at some point during
year, usually during winter. This is
an ideal time to cut back, clean up and divide your perennials.
Remember, these are tough plants and can survive most anything.
When perennials become
overcrowded, flowering declines, healthy growth is limited to the perimeters
of the plants, and they look shabby. A good way to rejuvenate such
perennials is to divide them, either in fall or early spring. Divide
six to eight weeks before the first hard frost, so roots get established.
A day or two before
dividing, thoroughly moisten soil around the planting and prepare the bed
where you will replant. To divide, break up the soil around the plant,
cutting 6 to 12 inches beyond its perimeter. Dig under roots to free
them. If the clump is too heavy to lift from the ground, cut it into
Tease soil from the
root ball, then make divisions. Note natural dividing points between
stems or sections. Some perennials can be pulled easily into clumps by
hand. Or use a knife or small pruning saw. Good-sized divisions
will grow and bloom more quickly than small sections. Trim any damaged
pieces from the divisions. Replant as soon as possible, then keep divisions
well watered while they get established. You can also plant in
containers (good if divisions are very small),
to set out later or share with other gardeners.
When planting, the most
important steps are to properly prepare the soil, and to carefully select
plants that are suited to the light levels and exposure of your garden.
For the novice, though, interpreting gardening terminology can be confusing,
especially with respect to lighting.
The term “shade” really
applies to several different situations. First, there is deep shade,
such as that found under evergreen trees—perhaps the most difficult
situation in which to garden. Many plants do thrive in deep shade, but
usually prefer the dappled light and moist, rich soil found under deciduous
trees or in woodland gardens. Shallow-rooted ground covers such as
Ajuga, Vinca, Hedera, and Galium do well under large trees, protected from
harsh winds and extreme temperatures, but without having to compete for
water and nutrients.
Other plants prefer
“partial shade,” where they receive four to six hours of sun in the morning,
but are protected from the hot afternoon sun by larger plants, or by
man-made structures. Plants preferring partial shade are a good choice
when planting along the east side of a house.
Wouldn’t it be nice if
plants could talk? When a plant turns yellow, there’s something wrong.
But what do the symptoms indicate?
Too much or too little water turns leaves light green or yellow, starting at
the tips or edges. Plants may be stunted. Leaf margin may also turn
brown and leaves may die.
Too much light makes leaves look bleached, especially on the top of the
plant. Lower leaves and those shaded from the sun will be healthy.
Nitrogen-deficient leaves turn pale green, then yellow, then drop, starting
with the oldest leaves. New leaves may be stunted. On
iron-deficient plants, the youngest leaves yellow first.
Many diseases and fungi turn leaves yellow with spots, streaks or all over,
and twist stems and flowers. If you suspect a plant is diseased, we
recommend you bring a sample of the affected part of the plant to the garden
center for diagnosis.
Selection—look to the light
preferences—especially regarding light and moisture.
Many perennials—such as
Heliopsis, Lavandula, and Aster—love eight or more hours of sun. Other
sun-adoring plants include Coreopsis, Euphorbia, Buddleia, Boltonia,
Achillea, Helianthemum, Gypsophila, and Phlox.
for sun and part-shade include Polemonium, Trollius, Filipendula, and
Platycodon. Digitalis, Bergenia, Campanula, and Aquilegia prefer moist
soil. Given six hours of sun daily, Dianthus, Hedera, and Bergenia can
provide either a sunny border or carpet beneath a leafy tree.
fair-skinned Victorians, the shade-loving flower gentry include Dicentra and
Heuchera, thriving with four to six hours of daily sun. With
sufficient moisture, Astilbe, Ligularia, Aruncus, Chelone, and Japanese
Anemone will display their beauty from early summer into fall.