Perennial plants are the backbone of every successful landscape and garden border. 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, then return in the spring, bigger and better with every passing season. Typically, they grow from their root stock rather than seeding themselves as an annual plant does. These are known as herbaceous perennials. However, depending on the rigors of local climate, a plant that is a perennial in its native habitat, or in a milder garden, may be treated by a gardener as an annual and planted out every year, from seed, from cuttings or from divisions.
June has been designated National Perennial Plant Month. There are wide selections of perennials that may be planted in June. It is a good time for the gardener to find more mature specimens of favorite summer bloomers at the garden center. It is also a good time to plan and plant a sequential summer perennial display of old-favorites and new cultivars. There are many spectacular flowering performers for the sultry summer season.
Some of the more popular perennial plant categories include Hosta, Daylily, Iris, Echinacea, Peony, Ferns, Grasses, Phlox, Heuchera, Astilbe and many more. Each genus can contain literally thousands of specific varieties. Part of the joy of gardening with perennial plants is discovering new plant introductions from family, friends and our knowledgeable staff.
Three tips for growing perennials.
1. Planting and spacing: Perennials can be planted throughout the year, but perform best when planted in the spring and fall. Careful attention should be paid to the mature height and spread of each plant. Refer to the care and culture tag on each plant, or ask one of our staff for more information.
2. Watering: Perennials need water to establish them when first planted. Water them deeply two to three times a week after planting. The moist soil will encourage good growth. For the best show of color all summer, don’t let up on the watering. After the second or third season they should survive on the strength of seasonal precipitation. Mulching your perennials will help with moisture retention and reduce weeding. Take care not to bury the crowns as that might lead to rot.
3. Feed your plants: You can feed your newly planted perennials as you would an annual. You should feed weekly with a water soluble fertilizer, or add a time-release fertilizer when planting. You’ll find traditional or organic fertilizers – either will do the job. One good organic is fish emulsion, and your perennials will grow even better if you top dress with compost.
Finally, perennials can be divided seasonally. While some varieties have long tap roots, most are clump forming like Hosta, Daylily and most Daisy types such as Echinacea and Rudbeckia. The best time for taking divisions would be early spring and fall. Water in well and treat as you would a new plant.
Proper selection and placement of perennial plants can result in a sequence of blooms that can stretch from early spring to late fall. Make plans now to visit the garden center for best selection, plus the right advice to make the most of your selections.