Using Perennials in Your Garden

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Echinacea purpurea 'Maxima'

Echinacea purpurea ‘Maxima’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you plant flowers in your garden, the advantage of perennials is that they return season after season. Many gardeners like these flowers, not only for their ability to bloom for several seasons, but for the wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes available. Most of these plants are easy to work with: Sufficient water, good soil, and abundant sunshine are all they need to provide beautiful blooms.

Proper Care

Even though perennials are generally hardy, it is still important to get them off to the right start and provide them with the care they need to grow and thrive. The first step is to start with healthy plants. Inspect the seedlingsbefore you plant to make sure they show no sign of disease or insect infestation.

Most types of perennial flowers like soil that is rich in organic matter. So, it’s important to have your soil analyzed, and, if necessary, amended with compost, aged manure, or other organic materials before using it for your perennial bed.

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When planting, consider how large the plant will grow, and provide enough space for the adult plants. Planting the seedlings with the adult dimensions of the plant in mind will save you headaches in the future.

Also, know how much sunlight your plants and need and plan your perennial garden accordingly.

Know the water requirements of your plants, as it differs among varieties. How you water can have a big impact on the flowers’ health. Overhead watering encourages water spots to remain on leaves, which can let infection spread from one plant to another. It is best to water deeply, using either drip irrigation or a soaker hose.

Because perennials remain in the ground year after year, they are more prone to disease and insect infestation than shorter-lived annual plants. The best way to avoid disease and other problems is to make sure the plants are as healthy and robust as they can be. Healthier plants are naturally able to withstand disease and insects better than weaker ones. Regularly inspect for signs of problems, such as wilting leaves, spots, or holes in the leaves.

You also want to trim and prune the the plants properly during and after each growing season. Although many perennials should be pruned once a year, pay attention to the specific requirements of each variety. Some benefit from a radical pruning in the winter, others need less pruning.

Popular Types of Perennials

Name: Achillea
Common name: Yarrow
Needs: Full sun, moderate water (less watering once fully established)

Name: Anemone
Common name: Japanese Anemone
Needs: Partial shade, regular watering

Name: Aster
Common name: New England Aster
Needs: Full sun, partial shade in hot climates, regular watering

Name: Astilbe
Needs: Partial to full shade (some sun OK in cool climates, regular watering

Name: Chrysanthemum
Common name: Shasta Daisy
Needs: Full sun, partial shade in hot climates, regular watering

Name: Coreopsis
Common name: Threadleaf Coreopsis
Needs: Full sun, moderate to little watering

Name: Delphinium
Needs: Full sun, regular watering

Name: Echinacea
Common name: Purple Coneflower
Needs: Full sun, moderate watering

Name: Geranium
Needs: Full sun or partial shade. Must have afternoon shade in hot climates. Regular watering

Name: Helleborus
Common name: Lenten Rose
Needs: Full sun in winter; partial to full shade in spring, summer and fall. Regular watering

Name: Nepeta
Common name: Catmint
Needs: Full sun, moderate watering

Name: Paeonia
Common name: Peony
Needs: Full sun, partial shade in hot climates, regular watering

Name: Papaver
Common name: Oriental Poppy
Needs: Full sun, regular to moderate watering

Name: Penstemon
Common name: Beard Tongue
Needs: Full sun; light shade in hot climates. Regular watering.

Name: Phlox
Needs: Full sun. Flowers may fade in hot climates. Needs regular watering.

Name: Redbeckia
Common name: Black-Eyed Susan
Needs: Full sun. Regular to moderate watering.

Name: Salvia
Needs: Full sun. Regular watering.

Name: Sedum
Common name: Autumn Joy
Needs: Full sun or partial shade. Moderate to little watering.

Name: Veronica
Needs: Full sun. Regular watering.

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