One of the great joys of the garden is lush, flowering perennials. New gardeners may find the thought of planning and planting a perennial bed intimidating, but it’s really easy! Long-term success with perennials is a direct result of good planning and some simple prep work. Here’s what you need to know:
First, pick the spot for your perennial bed. If necessary, use a garden hose or string and stakes to visualize the bed lines. If the bed is already cut, so much the better. Either way, be sure the space is the size and shape you want. Remove any vegetation in the bed. Lift sod and/or remove any weeds.
Healthy soil promotes healthy plants, which are more insect and disease resistant. We can’t over-emphasize the long-term value of adding organics, like peat moss, compost and manure to the garden. One part peat moss to two parts existing soil, or one part each garden soil, peat moss, and compost (or dehydrated manure) will give you great soil in which to start your new garden. Also add a handful per plant of an organic, balanced fertilizer like Plant-Tone. Mix or till these materials into the soil prior to planting. Grade the soil so the final desired contour is achieved.
The hole you dig for each perennial should be twice the size of the container the perennial comes in. The wider the hole, the better, since plant’s roots grow out more easily into loosened, enriched soil. Remove the perennial from the container and lightly loosen the roots so the plant will grow out of its tightly wrapped ball and settle in more quickly.
Refill the hole with enriched soil, setting plants into holes at their original growing level. Never bury a plant deeper than its crown (where the roots and the stems meet) Buried crowns mean suffocated plants! Plant 2 inches higher than ground level if you are going to mulch. Backfill the rest of the hole with enriched soil. Tamp down the soil to remove any large air pockets. Water well, with a soft trickle of water that lasts long enough to saturate the root ball deep into the soil. Perennials prefer one inch of water a week, in one application. However, different soil types may need slightly more or less water. Use your fingers to poke into the soil to test the dampness of the soil. In order to conserve precious moisture and to keep weeds down, mulch your perennials with a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch (not stones!)
A well-planned, well-planted perennial garden will be a joy for many years. Let us help you make the choices that will give you the garden you’ve dreamed of.