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Growing info

A. How to care for your perennials on arrival

Please open your parcel right away and soak the roots in water for at least 15 minutes. Then depending on plant either pot into a suitable sized container or straight into the ground. You can pot plants right away all year round to help build up the root system again and then plant out when the soil and weather conditions allow.

A good general multi-purpose compost is fine provided you add at least 10 to 20% sharp grit. This helps the drainage and keeps the container from getting blown over. When planting into the ground prepare your soil well in advance by forking it over to get plenty air into the soil. Add a good healping of leaf mould, garden compost or a general fertilizer and mix it in well and let it settle for at least two weeks before planting.

Then when planting just scrape back a hole in the ground enough to cover the roots and firm in gently. It is a good idea to leave a small indent in the soil around the plant to act as a well to hold the water so as it gets to the plants roots right away and does not run over the soil.

Water in well for the first two to three days even if it is raining to give the plant the best chance. Depending on weather conditions then water at least once a week with a dilute feed during active growth (late Spring to Mid Summer) this will help your plant get established better.

B. Perennial facts

Perennial means enduring. Unlike annuals that live and die in one season, any plant that endures the winter and grows for three or more years is called a perennial. The non-woody ones, or herbaceous perennials die down and lie dormant during the cold season but grow back bigger than ever when the weather warms. Perennials can be started anytime throughout the growing season, until 2 to 3 weeks before the ground freezes.

The later you start them the less chance you'll have of getting blooms the first year. However, if you buy established perennials and plant them early it's a pretty safe bet you'll get blooms before winter. Buying established plants is the fastest way to obtain beautiful results in your garden.

C. Perennial picks

Picking perennials that will thrive in your garden depends on a few things: the climate in your region; the amount of sun that reaches the bed; the plan of garden you want; the length of time it takes them to bloom; and of course, the condition of the plants

D. Blooming periods

Not all perennials bloom at the same time and many only bloom for a few weeks. To ensure you have a continuous flow of blooms in a perennial crop select varieties that will bloom at different times. Irises, for example, are spring bloomers while most lilies flower mid summer with mums blooming in the fall. Consider filling in with some annuals for a smattering of constant summer crop.

E. The plant

Does it look healthy and bushy? Plants with the most flowers are not necessarily the best. Look for those with plenty of new growth at the bottom part of the plant. Until you're ready to plant them keep perennials in the shade and water regularly. Don't let the soil dry out. Plants stored in a dark location like a basement or in the garage longer than a single night or day, can be damaged.

F. The dirt on soil

Perennials need at least 8 to 12 inches of good quality soil to support growth. Regardless of the condition of your soil it can never hurt to add extra organic material - compost, peat moss or manure to your pots each year at the beginning of the growing season. Mix in a little inorganic fertilizer as well.

Organic matter works like a sponge, improving the soil's ability to retain most nutrients and water. Inorganic fertilizer completes the balance of nutrients a soil needs to be considered good soil. Good soil makes a good foundation for good plants.

G. Time to transplant

Transplant those established perennials you purchased. Make sure they have been acclimatized to the outdoor world for at least a week.

This means hardening off the plant little by little from its' protected greenhouse environment allowing it to develop a hardiness to the elements. If you don't harden them off, the shock of the climate change could kill them.

H. Loosen the rootball before planting

Consider the spacing between the plants to ensure your pots will be able to accommodate more plants in the next year since many will expand in the spring. Planting in the full heat of a sunny summer day is risky. The plant will be stressed in coping with transplanting as well as enduring high temperatures. You could lose the plant. Better to transplant on a shady day or before or after the sun has reached its peak. Water plants well and let them sit for a few minutes before putting them into the ground. This gives the roots a head start on absorbing moisture.

Each planting hole should be twice as wide and twice as deep as the size of the pot the plant is growing in. Gently remove the plant from its pot. Carefully loosen the root ball to allow the roots to spread in the soil as the plant grows. Position the plant in the hole and firmly pack the soil around the base of the plant. This creates a small depression providing a natural watering hole and forcing the soil to make good contact with the roots.

Soak the plant well and finish with a dose of plant starter fertilizer such as 10-52-10 to promote root growth. Keep the plants moist for at least a week until they take.

Recently transplanted seedlings (perennials or annuals) need protection from the rain, winds and hot sun for the first week or two that they are in the pots. Still vulnerable to the elements, if they are exposed to strong sunshine or wind they could quickly die.

I. Protection Tips

  • Large can with tops & bottoms removed offer excellent protection.
  • Newspaper tents keep sun and cold air off. Keep papers in place with stones.
  • A shingle screen keeps wind from damaging your plants.

J. The care and feeding of perennials

Caring for perennials is quite easy. Aside from a little light housekeeping like pulling weeds, there are just four things to do: feed, water, deadhead, and mulch.

Feeding, or Fertilizing, just like people, plants require food on a regular basis. In flowering perennials it's especially important to fertilize weekly during their peak growing period.

Watering, water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink! Plants need a good soaking once or twice a week depending on the weather and your climate. A light sprinkling of water is not good enough. Watering plants properly means giving them enough water to reach the roots.

K. Be a Deadheader!

Deadheading is an easy technique to remove fading blooms. Simply pinch off or cut the flower heads as they fade. The plant will then put its energy into producing more flowers instead of seed. You will have a bushier plant with more flower blooms.


Some perennials will have their biggest burst of blooms in the spring but will actually bloom a second time in the fall if you cut off the first flush of flowers as they start to fade. Remember though to keep the leaves and stems intact on the plant. These will continue to soak in the sun's energy putting the good back into the plant's roots.



'The hosta is one of the most popular shade-loving perennials on the market today'