General Care Tips for Perennials

 

Planting

Planting container-grown perennials into the ground can be done at any time of the season after the frost is gone up, until 2 or 3 weeks before freezing. Bulbs should be planted in the spring or the fall only, depending on the type of plant. Dig a hole a little bit bigger than the size of the pot and insert the plant into the hole. Fill the hole around the plant back up with soil and lightly pat down. Adding Myke to the bottom of the hole will help root growth and therefore the overall growth and health of the plant. Some plants (such as Clematis) have more specific planting instructions.

Soil

Preparing the soil before planting is a great way to ensure your success with growing plants. Loosening the soil (through tilling or digging) to about 10-12" deep (at the VERY minimum 6") will enable roots to break through the soil easily and expand outwards. Adding ammendments to the bed such as top soil, peat moss, manure, and other organic matter will help with the nutrition of the soil as well as aeration. These ammendments are recommened to be made every few years. 

Dividing

Most perennials will need to be divided after a number of years. Division is needed when a plant becomes too crowded, starts dying off in the middle, blooms less than it has previously, or the overall health of the plant is lacking. In general, these plants should be divided in the springtime when growth reaches about 1-2 inches. For spring blooming perennials, divide them after they have finished blooming. An exception to this rule is Peonies, which should be divided in the fall.

How to divide perennials:
1. Dig up the plant with as much of the root as possible.
2. Split the plant into two or three pieces using a garden shovel or a sharp knife. Each piece should have more than one stem and plenty of roots. Any dead material can be cut away and discarded.
3. Replant the divided pieces or give them to a friend.

Fall/Winter Care

Continue watering your perennials through fall. DO NOT fertilize past September 1. The plants need to start getting ready for dormancy, and fertilizing will encourage them to do just the opposite. Cutting back your perennials can be done either in the fall or spring.

Cutting back in the fall: Wait until the leaves are mostly brown. This means the plant has gone dormant and the leaves are no longer needed to create and store energy. Cutting back in the fall is easy because there is no new growth to cut around.

Cutting back in the spring: Leaving the dead plant material over the winter will trap snow and therefore help insulate the roots. Some plants are considered to have winter attraction and are nice when kept up over the winter. When the snow has melted in the spring the dead plant material can be cut away.