Growing Perennials

Unlike annuals, herbaceous perennials reappear each spring. Depending on the species and planting conditions, life spans for these plants vary: Chinese Peonies my flourish for 30 years and at the other end of the spectrum are Delphiniums which may loose their vigor after several season. Perennials also have a wide diversity in growth habits: height, color, flower and foliage styles. A virtual plethora of shapes and sizes! In addition to the differences in appearance are degrees as to how each species can adapt to various planting sites; these plants all have specific cultural needs. Because of the many differences in appearance and cultural requirements, perennials can be used to meet a wide range of planting needs. Whatever the planting situation, perennials give a sense of permanence to the garden.

Perennials have fairly basic needs:

- well-drained soil relatively high in organic content and available plant foods. Mulching with organic material will improve the air/water relationship in the soil. Surface applications of an all-around garden fertilizer (such as Espoma) three times during the year will provide adequate amounts of plant food on the following schedule: late autumn to help them overwinter, early spring while still dormant and the third application 6 weeks into the growing season.

-make sure to divide once the plant becomes too crowded

-provide protection in the form of mulch to protect against winter damage. The need for protection is greatest where the planting site is at the northern limit of a plant's hardiness rating.

Perennial gardening is a two-way investment. The initial cost, compared to shrubs or trees, is pretty low. You will have a variety of plants that will live on from year to year, providing you with color and beauty and interest.

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