Gardening With Perennials
Perennials are those flowers which dependably bloom year after year. After growing throughout the spring and summer, perennials die back to the ground each winter only to reemerge again the following spring. With their brilliant colors and interesting textures, they’re at the heart of most gardens. Perennials are easy to grow and need little maintenance. There are, however, a few guidelines to follow which will help your garden flourish.
After the spring clean up, cut back to the ground any stalks which were left standing over the winter. Survey the perennial bed early in the spring and take note of what you have. See if there are any empty spaces which could benefit from additional flowers. Ideally, the perennial bed should provide colorful blooms all season long. To compliment the perennials, plant some annuals in the garden for added color. Annuals will bloom from spring until the first frost.
In the spring, apply a slow release garden fertilizer. This will help the perennials grow vigorously throughout the entire season. Cultivating some compost into the garden each year will improve soil consistency and keep the soil nutrient rich.
Throughout the summer there is the need for deadheading. This is the process of snipping off flowers which have gone by. It keeps the garden looking fresh all season. Deadheading annuals is even more important as it encourages a continuous bloom from spring to fall. Cultivate the garden soil a few times during the growing season. It will keep weeds from encroaching on the garden and will allow water and nutrients to penetrate the soil surface.
Taller plants, especially those with large flowers, will require staking. After rain shower, the flowers are weighed down and the plant’s stalk will often bend or break.
Late in the fall, perennials begin to fade as their foliage starts to die back to the ground. Their roots are still alive but the above ground part of the plant is done for the season. Though cutting back the plants can be done in the spring, it’s generally done in the fall for aesthetic reasons. There are some perennials, such as black eyed Susan, which, if left standing, add character to the fall and winter landscape.
Dividing perennials is an easy and free way to increase your plant stock. After a few years of growth, perennials may begin to outgrow their allotted space. Dividing overgrown perennials solve the problem crowding in the garden. Dividing also gives you new plants to add to your garden. To divide a perennial, dig the plant out of the garden. Be sure to preserve as much of the root system as possible. Then divide the perennial in half with a shovel or edger. Replace the perennial back in the ground and back fill with a mix of compost and existing soil. Fall is the best time of year to divide perennials.
Perennials are adaptable to a variety of landscape conditions so analyze the conditions of your own garden to determine what will work best. Also, have a plan or list in hand before you head out to the greenhouse. Perennials need little maintenance once they are established and provide years of care free gardening enjoyment.