Gardening with perennials: need-to-know basics

Posted by tonka_admin on Mar 10th 2016

The perennial seminar was overflowing with people who are champing at the bit to garden, and my heart overflowed with joy to see so many inspired and enthusiastic gardeners! The presentation was jam-packed with lists of plants and design ideas (maybe a little over-packed) because I just couldn’t contain MY enthusiasm. In this PowerPoint is basically everything we covered, in case you need a refresher or we didn’t have the pleasure of your company! Please use the arrows in the upper left corner to navigate through the presentation. [pdf-embedder url=""]

Perennial gardening basics

Here is an in-depth review of the basics of perennial gardening. After our gardening brains have had a long winter siesta, it’s important to review the basics. Right plant, right place – Put in the right place and a plant will be happiest, perform its best, and be less likely to suffer from diseases and pests, making your job easier! Soil – More than a placeholder, this element provides nutrients, water retention or drainage, and air (roots need to breathe a little, too). Compost is almost always beneficial, allowing sandy soils to retain more water and clay soils to drain more effectively. Light – You can’t cheat your plants – they’ll know. Low-light plants that receive too much sun might scorch, and full-sun plants that receive too little light might produce less flowers. Keep in mind full sun is 6+ hours, part sun is 3-6 hours, and shade is less than 3 hours of sunlight. The best way to measure sunlight involves a lawn chair, a good book, and your favorite beverage. Talk about multitasking! Water – Water deeply and less often for best results. Overhead lawn sprinklers are often too shallow, so soaker hoses, drip irrigation, or a water wand are best. Fertilizer – Use a balanced fertilizer in spring and maybe once more mid-summer. Don’t fertilize after Aug. 15,– that’s the time when plants need to be winding down for their winter nap. Know your zone – We are a solid zone 4b. “Zone envy” is what we are afflicted with when we want to grow zone 5 plants. Often these will do fine if properly mulched for winter. But, there is always a risk. Zone 4 or lower is more secure. Space: the final frontier (or rather the spacing between plants, the area least addressed) – It’s important to give plants the space they need to grow up healthy and strong, and not crowd each other. Perennials usually take about three years to really show their potential. The first year they “sleep,” the second year they “creep,” but in the third year they “leap.” They need the space to make that leap. Always make time to enjoy your gardens! Megan, Perennial Lead