Cozy little back yard terrace with table and chair.

Year After Year, Perennials Keep Coming Back!

Writer / Carrie Petty

This is the time of year to plant flowers! Flowers bring extra beauty and happiness into our world, and the best kind of flowering plant is the kind that keeps coming back year after year — the perennial.

Growing perennials is one of the easiest ways to garden. I have more than 40 varieties of perennials in my yard, I just love them because they give me a great ‘cutting’ selection all growing season long in which to make beautiful floral arrangements. In the summer months, entertaining and gardening life go hand in hand.

Purchasing Perennials
Different sizes of containers will yield more or less bloom. The bigger the plastic pot, the older the plant, thus, more blooms. Check the roots for an established root system with lots of little root ends showing. If roots have become root bound, which looks like rope wrapped around the base of the plant, choose another specimen. A root-bound plant has been there awhile, so there is more of a chance to bring home disease, too. Also, believe it or not, I often smell the soil. It should be earthy and fresh smelling, not sour or decaying in smell.

In addition, when picking the right plants to purchase from your local nursery, check the foliage for any disease. Look for the red spider mites or white aphids, which kind of look like cotton. If there is any indication, find another flowered friend!

Succession Planting
When one plant is finished blooming and the last bloom fades, I always design my gardens so that another plant begins to bloom. This keeps the garden in perpetual motion, with color consistently ever-present. It is called, succession planting. Another great tip is to design the flower garden with plants low in the front and high in the back. I also like to repeat a perennial three times in the garden plot, spaced apart from each other but in equal distances, this way there is easy rhythm in the design and the eye move freely through the plot. This is more of an English gardening technique.

Digging a New Home
I give perennials a good watering when I get them home. Then, trim off any tired foliage or blooms. I like to plant in the lowest heat portion of the day, usually in the morning. Roll the round edges of the plastic container on the ground to loosen the soil, and then tip the pot to gently lift out the root ball into your hand. Check the root system, claw away some of the dirt so that the roots become loose and free to branch out when planted in the soil.

Place root ball in the prepared hole. The top of the dirt from the pot should be level with the top of the hole at soil grade. Backfill the dirt into the hole and gently press to firm up the plant. This also helps remove any air pockets. Water in well.

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