Perennials are plants that will live in your garden for more than one year. Although the leaves, stems and flowers die back to the ground, the roots, which persist in the ground through the winter, will send up new shoots in the spring. Perennials are an investment in your garden, with many adding interest and beauty for years.
Photo by Hannah Robertson
When choosing a perennial, careful planning will produce the most favorable outcome:
Know your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. Never assume that all plants offered at your local garden center are recommended for your zone. Read plant tags, consult books and internet resources, and ask other gardeners which plants have grown well in their gardens.
Know how to choose the right plant for the right place. Plants requiring full sun need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight to keep them happy. Some plants like part sun/part shade, while others prefer full shade.
Know the expected size of the mature plant. Being aware of the plant’s height and width in years to come will help you at planting time to provide the room it needs to thrive.
Know the moisture needs of your plant. Although many perennials grow best in moist, well drained soil, some prefer dry or boggy areas.
Know how to plant and care for your perennial. Give your new plant a good drink of water as soon as you bring it home. Many perennials purchased in pots are root bound and dry out quickly. Mulching the pot with Premium Ground Cover will help to keep the perennial hydrated until it’s planted.
Dig a hole twice as wide as the pot and slightly deeper. Remove rocks, roots and other debris from the soil. Amending the soil with organic material such as compost will increase its water and nutrient holding capacity and will provide good drainage. Replace enough amended soil so the plant will be at the same depth in the hole that it was in the pot. Remove the plant from the pot, loosening the roots slightly. If it is root bound, score the root ball with a knife and loosen the roots before placing the plant into the hole. Refill the hole and firm the soil. Water well. Mulch to keep the soil moist and cool and to inhibit weed growth. Your new perennial will be very thirsty during its first season. Keep the soil well watered, and watch for signs of wilting during hot or windy weather.
Know how to prepare your perennial for winter. Late in the fall, remove and compost dead foliage, stems and spent flowers. After consistently cold weather and a killing frost, mulch with a 3-4 inch layer of Premium Ground Cover to protect your beautiful investment from winter damage.