Here you will find our Perennials articles
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Care of a Perennial Garden
Keep your Perennials happy and your garden healthy
Basic upkeep and care of your perennials will promote healthiness and
produce better results. Follow these easy steps and you'll see stunning
results in your garden.
Hand-watering with a hose can eat up a lot of your time and can waste
a lot of water, as can sprinklers. If you still prefer over-head watering,
however, water your plants early in the day. Soaker and drip irrigation
hoses will save you time and will conserve water. Because these irrigation
systems water at soil level, they also prevent leaves from getting wet,
which can lead to disease.
Consider xeriscaping, using drought-tolerant perennials
like sedums, penstemons and yucca to achieve
a desert look with a desert like need for watering; not much. Asters and Epimedium (among
others) will work for those who don’t want to go southwestern with
the look of the border. Watering is becoming a big issue for many areas,
and it’s no fun to plant a garden and then have someone in your
town government say you can’t water it. Xeriscaping could
be the answer for your garden (not NO water, but low water).
Dead-heading of Perennials
Dead-heading (removing spent flowers) will promote
more blooms and will enhance the strength and health of your perennials.
Deadheading before a plant goes to seed will also prevent invasive perennials
from overtaking less aggressive plants. Additionally, most perennials
are not very attractive when in seed. The exceptions to the deadheading
rule are in perennials that have ornamental seed heads, which are attractive
in their own right, or if you wish to collect seeds for future propagation.
That said I also leave up plants for winter interest, (grasses, sedums…)
and for habitat feeding (rudbeckia, echinacea…).
Just a little homework will help you decide who gets chopped and who
Mulching is the process of covering soil around your perennials
with materials such as compost or pine needles. During warm weather,
mulching will help to keep the soil cool and prevent loss of moisture.
Mulching also deters weeds, and the mulch itself can add nutrients
to the soil. Winter mulching should be considered in colder climates.
After the ground has frozen, mulch with dried leaves or straw to protect
the plant’s roots from severe weather. Remove the winter mulch
gradually in the early spring to allow the plants to slowly grow accustomed
to the sunshine and warm weather.
Nobody likes weeding… I certainly don’t. But weeds will steal precious
nutrients, sunshine and water away from your perennials if they are not diligently
removed. Weeding should be done on a continual basis so that the weeds don’t
have a chance to go to seed and turn a small nuisance into a big problem. Hand-weeding
is still the most effective way to remove weeds. If weeding a large flower bed,
you can use a hoe, but take care not to damage the roots of the plants around
them. To make this chore a little more pleasant, I recommend investing in a gardener’s kneeling
well as a sturdy pair of gardening
Staking and Pinching
Tall perennials will look and fare better if they are staked
or tied up to avoid slumping over on the ground. Peonies,
for example, often bend over under the weight of their large blooms.
Using a support, such as a wire peony hoop, will keep your peony upright
and looking lovely. Place the hoop on the peony when the plant is young
and raise it as the peony grows.
Tall-stemmed flowers can easily be tied to bamboo stakes in order to
keep them off the ground. If you don’t want to use stakes, try
pinching plants in the late spring. Pinching plants along the stem while
they are growing will promote bushy growth, rather than upward growth,
so that the plant will be less likely to need a stake when it blooms.
Division entails splitting plants apart into smaller plants. Division not only
maintains the health of your perennial garden through the years, but it also
is an easy way to propagate your plants. Perennials such as iris or hemerocallis (daylily)
will show a noted decrease in blooms over the years if they are not divided.
In general, dividing should be done every two to four years.
It is best to dig the plant up in order to divide it, although it is
possible to use a spade to divide the plant without removing it from
the ground. Some plants like ornamental grasses or irises may
require knives, machetes, or even hatchets to get the job done, but it
is worth it.
Some things to keep in mind, the more plants you make, the less show
next year. Sure you now have six irises from that one in the ground,
but they’re all so small it’ll be two years before you see
a flower again. Splitting in half gives you two decent plants, but they’ll
both need dividing next year! Figure out how often you want to do this
job and find your happy medium. Plants should generally be divided in
the fall, although fall-blooming flowers should be divided in the early
spring. The divisions make lovely gifts from your garden to friends and
family, who will think of you every time they see that plant. Not bad
With some basic upkeep and care, your perennials will produce beautiful
blooms and keep your garden looking beautiful over many seasons and many