Gardening Guide

104 Perennial Flower Gardening Section


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Welcome to Gardening Guide


104 Perennial Flower Gardening Article

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Perennial Flower Gardening


A dilemma faced by all gardeners each year is “perennials or annuals?” Technically, a perennial is any plant that grows back for more than two years, without having to re-grow from seed; some perennials can even last for decades. These flowers are important parts of any garden, returning year after year, getting healthier and hardier as the years pass.

Though perennials are initially more expensive than annuals, once planted, they are permanent editions to your garden. In the long run, then, buying perennials may save you money because you won’t have to keep running to the store every year to buy new plants.

The majority of perennials like well-drained soil with a good mixture of clay and sand, tilled to about one foot in depth. With the enormous variety of perennials in existence, though, it is easy to find the right flower for your perennial flower gardening hobby; there are perennials that can tolerate shady areas, full sun, and semi-shade, and perennials that can grow in either alkaline or acidic soils.

Many perennials don’t present much difficulty to grow and can often be planted in less than ideal spots. The yarrow, for example, needs full sun and does well in poor soil, and its flowers come in a wide variety of colors. The bearded iris prefers full sun, blooms in late spring to early summer, and has a cornflower-blue flower with a white beard. Peonies have very fragrant flowers; they bloom from late spring to early summer, do well in full sun, and tolerate moderately moist soil. Perennial sage tolerates full sun as well and produces lavender flowers. Daylilies have trumpet shaped flowers that are beige-pink with a lime throat; they have a very high resistance to disease and pests.

To the delight of many gardeners, perennials bloom at different times during the growing season and so researching the blooming time of each type of flower will allow you to create a garden that could potentially display vibrant colors all season long. To start the growing season, you can use rock cress, bluebells, and bleeding hearts, while for late spring, you can use false indigo, columbine, candytuft, leopard’s bane, bellflower, peonies, and oriental poppies, which often bloom into summer as well. Use mountain bluet, snow-in-summer, garden lilies, violet sage, and stonecrop for mid to late summer color, and for lat summer and fall visual displays, aster, boltonia, blue leadwort, mums, purple coneflower and plaintain lily, black eyed susans, and goldenrod are good choices.

The spring or fall, when the weather is cool and moist, is the best time to plant perennials. You can plant container-grown perennials throughout the growing season, but just make sure to water them well. Be prepared to be not so impressed with your first year perennial flower gardening results, as your plants might need at least a growing season to reach full maturity and a healthy enough state to produce an impressive bloom.

At the end of the growing season, the flowers and foliage of perennial plants die, but the roots continue to live, storing food to help the plant grow back the next growing season. Because the roots continue to live and give off new plants, an essential task in perennial flower gardening is dividing them. You can either divide your perennials in early spring or early fall; plants that bloom in mid to late summer should generally be divided in spring and those that bloom in the spring should be divided in the fall. Some gardeners claim that those that bloom early in the spring should be divided right after they flower, so that they’ll have the strength to flower again next spring.

Since it is often difficult to grow perennials from seed, a good way of starting perennial flower gardening (or just getting an individual flower that caught your eye) without spending money is dividing some existing plant belonging to a friend or neighbor. In this way, you get an inexpensive addition to your garden, and you help your friend or neighbor’s plant by making sure it is healthy and getting enough water and nutrients by dividing it.

As with all flowers, deadheading, or the removal of faded flowers, is also a very important maintenance task in perennial flower gardening. Deadheading ensures neatness in your garden and it also serves to allow the plant to conserve energy for flowering instead of forming seed. You should cut large blooms, such as roses and peonies, off one by one, while you can shear plants with multiple stems and blooms. Keeping up with your deadheading will prevent haphazard, uncontrolled reseeding (which could lead to a disorganized garden and more work for you) and will keep your garden in bloom as often as possible.