Perennial plants are the backbone of any flower garden. These type of plants save time, money and work, coming back year after year in all their floral glory. Plant a perennial once, and you’ll be able to enjoy it (and share it) for years to come, if it’s being grown under the right circumstance.
Perennial plants can last indefinitely. They offer a wide range of diversity in the flower garden, providing reliable color, height, texture and seed heads. These returning beauties provide the ideal backdrop for short-lived annual plants and can keep bloom color going in your garden spring through fall.
Make your flower choices, then consider these 5 smart things when planting perennial plants.
1- Light and Water Needs
Decide on the location and select perennials that match the amount of sunlight the location receives each day. Some perennial plants grow best in full sun, some require a shady spot and some like a little bit of both
Read the plant label to determine what light needs the plant has and select the ones that match the amount of daily sunlight the selected location receives.
Plants also have different water needs and should be matched not only to the location, but also to each other, for best results. For example, canna lilies and elephant ears thrive in wet, soggy soil, but foxtail lilies and lavender prefer dry soil. These perennial plants will not grow well when planted near each other due to their opposite water needs.
2- Mature Size
The cute little potted plant you buy at the nursery is just a baby, it will get bigger. Read the plant label to discover the mature size of the plant to determine if it will be a good fit for the location you have selected.
A compact plant will be low-growing and not grow aggressively. Others are aggressive growers and can become invasive if not given plenty of space to grow. Each type has their place in the landscape, just be aware of the mature plant size and growing habits before planting.
3- Pests and Disease
Some plants are hardier than others, and the hardy ones will require less maintenance than those susceptible to pests and diseases.
Perennials that are native to your region will be hardier since they have already adapted to the climate and the common pests and plant disease in your area.
Research perennials to discover what, if any, pests and diseases they are most likely to develop, then decides if that particular flower is worth the effort. Plants that are resistant to pests, disease and drought will be the easiest to maintain.
4- How It Propagates
Some perennials will self-propagate and spread through underground rhizomes, self-seeding, or bulb multiplication. Others will need a little help from you to propagate and spread.
Bee balm will spread via underground rhizomes and fill in a damp portions of landscape within a few years without any help. Peonies and hostas outgrow their home every few years and will need to be dug up, divided and re-planted. Poppy, foxglove and forget-me-knots are self-seeders that are ideal for locations that you want to plant and forget about.
Some perennials will require a leaf or root cutting to propagate. Be aware of the propagation tendencies and requirements of each plant so you will know how to create new plants, or prevent new plants from growing.
5- When to Plant and Divide
Each perennial will have an ideal planting and dividing season. Spring flower bulbs are planted in the fall, summer perennials are planted in the spring. Shrubs are planted in the fall. The plant label will contain planting time information.
Division of plants should be done in early spring just prior to the plant beginning to bud, or in fall after the plants has finished up the season. Each perennial will differ in ideal division time, the plant label will provide that information as well.