Planting and Care of Perennials

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Perennials are plants that live for two or more years. They are the backbone of your flower garden and with the proper care will give you many years of enjoyment.

WHEN TO PLANT: Perennials are best planted in the spring or fall when temperatures are cooler. This gives them time to settle in and grow new roots.

WHERE TO PLANT: Always consider your planting zone. Also, group plants together considering their sun or shade requirements. You should also pick plants that bloom at different times to insure color in your garden all season long.

HOW TO PLANT: Perennials like loose, well-drained, loamy soil. Adding compost will give your plants a strong base. Water your plants well before planting. Dig a hole twice the size and deeper than the pot. Put a handful or two of organic matter in the hole. Gently remove the plant from the pot and break up the root ball with your fingers. Make sure the plant is the same depth level as the pot it came in. Fill in the hole with a mixture of soil and compost. Gently firm the soil with your hands. Water the plant well. Avoid getting water on the foliage to avoid disease. Frequent watering during the first growing season is a must. If planting is done in the fall, water the plants up until frost. Add several inches of mulch around the plants but not touching the stem. Using a low- nitrogen, high-phosphorus fertilizer will encourage more blooms and less foliage. Removing spent flowers (deadheading) will encourage re-blooming.

DIVIDING: To keep your perennials performing, divide every three to four years when not in bloom. Early spring is the best time to divide plants. Choose a cool day before a rain. Gently dig up the root ball and divide into smaller clumps. Plant these divisions as soon as possible and water them in well throughout the first season.

WINTER CARE: After your ground freezes, cover your plants with mulch or dry peat moss. You can remove the mulch in the spring after you have nights consistently above freezing temperatures.