Tips for Planting and Maintaining Perennials in New England
Jul 13, 2015 03:44PM ● Published by Ryan Frisch
Perennial plants are the backbone of nearly every flower garden. Unlike annual plants, which must be replanted each spring, herbaceous perennials die to the ground at the end of the season, and then regrow from the same roots the following year. People grow perennial flowers because they are such easy-care, dependable performers, and because they offer an enormous variety of color, texture, and form. The following tips will help your flower garden be the envy of your neighborhood.
- When planting a new perennial garden, prepare the soil well at the outset. That may be your only opportunity to loosen the soil, remove rocks, and add organic matter.
- If you start plants by seed, put your first-year seedlings in a "nursery bed" rather than directly into your flower garden. They will not bloom or have much of a presence until their second year anyway, and a nursery bed will allow you to keep a better eye on their performance.
- Most perennials should be divided in early spring when new growth is only a few inches high. If you miss your chance in the spring, wait until fall. Irises are the one major exception to this rule: they should be transplanted in early summer, right after they have bloomed.
- Keep newly transplanted perennials well watered for the first few weeks. Water deeply to saturate the entire root ball and establish good contact between the roots and the surrounding soil.
- Most perennials prefer a pH of about 6.5, although, some prefer more alkaline or acidic soil. If you have trouble with a particular plant, check its pH requirements and the pH level of the soil in your flower garden.
- If your plants look stressed during the growing season, or if you see disease or insect damage, feed your plants with a quick-release organic fertilizer (try a blend of seaweed and fish emulsion).
- If a plant performs poorly, try moving it to a different location.
- When designing a perennial garden, think about how you'll get access to your plants to stake, deadhead, or divide them. Flat rocks can be used as stepping stones within the garden. A walkway created at the back of a border will be hidden during the growing season, but will make the bed accessible for spring and fall chores.