Whether you're a new gardener planning your first perennial bed, or an experienced gardener hoping to improve your existing plantings, we can help make your garden a success. First, lets dispel a common myth: You dont need to be an expert gardener to grow perennials. Many types of perennials are easy to grow and provide years of pleasure with minimal upkeep.
Let's begin by answering a few common questions about perennials.
does the term perennial mean?
Technically speaking, trees and shrubs are perennial plants--they live for more than two years. But in common usage the term perennial refers to herbaceous perennials: non-woody plants that die back to the ground each fall, then regrow in spring.
grow perennials instead of annuals like petunias
Perennial plants remain in the ground year after year. Once established, most perennials need minimal upkeep in the form of watering and fertilizing, since their roots are more far-ranging than those of annual plants. Many perennials spread readily, filling out garden spaces and providing more and more color each year.
my perennials flower all summer, like my annuals?
At first, this may seem like a drawback, since each plant won't flower all summer. However, properly planned, a perennial garden will have flowers all season long--they just won't be the same flowers all the time. Perennial gardens change with the seasons. You can enjoy delicate columbines in the spring, flamboyant peonies in early summer, stately delphiniums in midsummer, and cheerful black-eyed Susans in late summer right into autumn--all in the same flower bed. One of the greatest joys of perennial gardening is watching the plantings change with the seasons.
Five Steps to Success
1. Choose the right site. If you are creating a new bed, try to choose a site that gets partial to full sun. Although there are perennials that will withstand deep shade, you'll have a much larger selection of plants to choose from if the site receives some sun.
2. Choose the right plants. Evaluate your site, noting sun exposure and soil type, and choose plants based on these assessments. Make sure the plants you want are adapted to your growing region--check the USDA Zone rating.
3. Prepare the soil. Since your perennials will be occupying the same space for years, it's important to prepare the soil. Most perennials like a moderately rich, loose, loamy soil, with plenty of organic matter.
4. Plant properly. Follow the planting instructions that come with your new plants. Water plants well after planting.
5. Provide some extra TLC the first season. It's generally a good idea to mulch beds after planting with a thick layer of organic mulch. However, don't pile mulch right up agains plants--keep it a few inches from the base of the plants. Be diligent about watering the new plantings, if nature doesn't provide. A deep watering once a week is better than a daily sprinkle.