Selecting and Planting Perennials
Good information for selecting and planting perennials for your home garden.
When selecting perennials for planting, look for fresh, healthy-looking plants that appear vigorous and ready to grow. Avoid overgrown, ro
ot-bound plants and any that have insects or diseases.
Although perennials can be held in their containers for a short period of time, we recommend they be planted as soon as possible to avoid them drying out in the pots. The sooner you plant them, the faster they can become established in your garden!
When to Plant:
Spring is the ideal time to plant container-grown perennials. They have a chance to get well established before the heat of summer arrives. Spring is also a good time to divide or transplant most types of perennials that you may already have in your garden. Peonies,
Iris and Oriental Poppies should not be divided in the spring, but can be planted from containers all season long.
Summer planting is very successful, as long as plants are not allowed to dry out. Watering is especially important if the weather is hot and dry. Transplanting or dividing perennials already established in your garden is not recommended during the summer, except for Bearded Iris, which should be divided only in July or August.
Fall planting is highly recommended in most areas. Early-blooming varieties will put on a colorful display in spring if planted in the fall. Dividing or moving established perennials in the fall is usually very successful. Winter frosts may “heave” fall-planted perennials. Check them in late winter, and if any have popped out of the ground, gently press them back in place.
Planting your Garden:
Design your project on paper first, or by setting out the pots and rearranging them until you are happy with the concept. Please keep in mind, those little plants are going to grow, and some varieties may eventually take up more room than you first think.
Preparing your Site:
Soil: Most perennials grow best in a deep, rich, well-drained soil. Check the plant tag for specific soil or site requirements. Properly preparing your soil is the single most important step to having healthy, successful gardens.
Dry, sandy soils can be improved by adding plenty of organic matter, such as compost, moistened peat moss, or composted manure. Dig the area to a depth of at least 8 inches, preferably with a fork or spade.
Heavy clay soils need to be opened by adding plenty of organic matter, along with perlite or coarse sand. Gypsum will also loosen the soil, but will take 1-2 years to make a noticeable difference.
Few perennials do well in wet, poorly drained soils. Consider building raised beds or installing drainage tubing if you have a soggy garden area.
Weeds: The planting area must be free of perennial weeds, especially spreading types like Canada Thistle, and Couch or Quack Grass. Annual weeds are easily controlled by hand weeding.
Mulching around your plants will help to control weeds, and will keep roots cool and moist. Choose a mulching material that is organic and weed free, such as bark, cocoa beans, or shredded leaves.