Homeowners who are looking to have a beautiful, colorful garden on their property should familiarize themselves with the different varieties of perennials available. Unlike annual plants, which die every winter and need to be replanted each spring, perennials regrow from the same roots every year. While the lifespans, bloom time, and forms differ between species (from “short-lived” flowers of about 3-4 years to longer-lived flowers that can regrow 15 or more years), familiarizing yourself with the basics of perennials will help you grow a garden on your landscape that’s sure to turn heads in your neighborhood.
Gardeners rarely, if ever, use strictly herbaceous perennials in their gardens. Woody plants such as shrubs, roses, and trees are usually used to provide a scenic background for the plants and make it look fuller. Annuals and biennials are often used to coordinate garden aesthetics with the season.
When is the best time of the year to plant perennials? Theoretically, you could plant them any time of the year you want, as long as the ground isn’t frozen enough to block your shovel! But most gardeners plant their perennials either during the springtime or the fall. Many will claim fall is the best time to plant as the root systems will have more time to take hold and strengthen before the hot summer comes, but it is certainly not too late to plant them now as long as you maintain them during the summer.
Maintaining Your Perennial Garden
Most perennial plants are easy to care for and dependable, but you’ll still need to maintain them throughout the season to get the most out of them.
- Fertilizing: One spring application of a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorous fertilizer is usually enough to feed your perennials during the season.
- Watering: You won’t need to water your perennial garden as often as you would a vegetable garden, but keep the weather forecast in mind and water deeply during periods of low rainfall.
- Edging: Give your garden a clean, professional look and keep away your lawn grass and weeds with a sharp edge. You can do this yourself every so often with an edging tool or you can have permanent edges professionally installed.
- Mulching: If your garden is relatively new, you may want to consider applying mulch to keep the growth of weeds at a minimum. A densely grown perennial garden will generally shade out most weeds, but this can take a few years to achieve.
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