The best thing about perennials is that they return year after year, with no effort on your part. All you’ve got to do is plant them do a little maintenance every time and that’s it! On top of that, many perennial flowers will begin to grow after the warmer weather arrives and will tolerate the cool evenings much better than annuals. To get you started, here are a few ideas to make certain your perennial flower garden thrives year after year.
When you’re first starting your perennial garden, make certain to pay attention to how tall and wide the crops will grow. It can take them a couple seasons to reach that size, but eventually they will. If the perennials are planted too close together, your garden will become overcrowded and ugly. Avoid it by giving them sufficient space when you first plant them. While you’re waiting for them to grow, plant annuals in the vacant spaces. Every year there’ll be less and less empty spaces to fill.
As the perennials grow, you might need to divide 1 plant into a couple of plants. This will avoid the perennials from dying out, taking over and will create new plants. Perennials should only be divided in early spring or autumn, except for Irises, which need to be divided after they’ve bloomed sometime in early summer. To divide a plant, first dig it up and then remove any extra soil. Then cut or tear apart the plant, ensuring that every part that’s split has its own root and foliage system. Finally, replant the perennial and water well for the upcoming few weeks so it will continue to grow strong and healthy.
Spring and Summer Maintenance
There are really only three elements to spring and summer care: dividing, soil maintenance and watering. We talked about dividing previously, which is necessary to the health of the plant.
Soil care for perennials is straightforward. Before planting them, make sure the soil is loose. Avoid clay soil, as it is going to be too compact to the roots of this plant to flourish in. To improve the soil, add compost and peat moss before planting. This will improve the drainage of the soil and allow the roots to spread. After the perennials are planted, you can add an inch or two of compost to the peak of the soil. The compost will contain all of the nutrients that the plants will need for your season. One program annually is all you require.
If the weather forecast isn’t calling for rain, your perennials will have to be watered. You just have to add 1 inch of water twice per week. If you cover the floor with mulch, you may just have to water once weekly, as the mulch will help to keep the soil from drying out. To tell if you will need to water, then stick your finger about an inch or two to the ground. If it’s dry, then water. If the soil is moist, then you can make it.
Once fall arrives and the plants begin to die off for the entire year, what should you do? Do you leave the plant or do you cut it back to ground level? Well, it depends upon the plant and your tastes. Some folks believe leaving the plant “as is” generates interest for the chilly winter season. Surely decorative grasses should be left alone. Not only does this help the plant to become hardier and more powerful, but they also really do look amazing when surrounded by snow.
The rest is up to you. If you prefer the appearance, then leave it. One point to consider however, is that in case you leave the plant, then in the spring once the snow melts, the plant will begin to rot and rust. If you do not cut back the plant in the autumn, then you will have this mess to take care of.
If you will cut the perennials back in the autumn, then you need to choose just how much you cut back – all the way into the floor or leave a foundation. The simple rule here is to cut back the herbaceous plants (those with fleshy stems rather than woody stems) all the way down to floor level and cut the non-herbaceous perennials just to the bottom, as it will not die out over the winter season.