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Flowering Perennials

Everyone wants plants that bloom all season and they want them to live as long as their grand- mother's favorite old-timey pass me down plant. 

Unfortunately, most perennials do neither!  There are two keys to having success with flowering perennials:  1) plan your plantings so that you have a succession of blooms from early spring until near frost and 2) select and manage your plants to get the greatest longevity from them.  

With a bit of forethought, planning and weed control.  Flowering perennials can be an exciting part of your garden.   

German Bearded Iris are one of the first blooms to appear each spring, they have great longevity and come in a wide array of colors.  Their foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season.  

Probably the greatest misconception that we hear from customers regarding perennials is, "I want to plant something that I won't have to worry about every year".  Perennial does NOT mean no maintenance and management.  A perennial bed will require management just as a good annual bed will.  Perennial simply is a life form of plant that should live more than 2 seasons.  Most of your flowering perennial plants will live an average of 4 years with adequate care.  Some will live much longer.  But all will require some care.  Perennials still require watering, fertilizing and weed control every year.  Most respond well to deadheading and pruning.  Many require dividing on a regular basis, such as Iris and Daylilies.  So as you can see the use of perennials in a garden is a wonderful addition; however, it does not end all of your work.  Actually many perennials do not reach their prime until their third or fourth year in a location.  So we must sometimes exercise our patience.  

In many cases using perennials is a wise choice from a money standpoint, because you are not having to purchase as many plants each year.  But to get the best impact, selection is extremely important.  

One question we always get each year is: "How do I decide which perennials to plant?"  Our general answer is to visit garden centers or gardens where perennials are heavily used throughout the growing season.  Look to see what is in bloom or looks attractive to you at each visit and then decide how it can be used in your garden.  Read about the plant and study its cultural needs to see if it is a good option for your climate and the spot in the garden that you would like to use it.  

Early Season (March - April) Mid Season (May - June) Late Season (July - Sep.)  Foliage Interest

One final word of caution, buy from a garden center that you can trust.  Since the gardening fever is at its peak from late March - May, and since gardeners want to buy only the plants that are in bloom, some plant growers have manipulated the plants to make them be in bloom during this peak buying season.  Don't assume that since a Purple coneflower or Mrs. Huff's Lantana in a pot is blooming in May that it will bloom the next May in your garden.  In fact, they may have not even broke dormancy yet in May.  This is why it is so very important to see the plants growing in a garden under normal care.  

We try to plant a good selection of perennials in our gardens each year to test their performance.  We also try to allow our plants to bloom under as near normal conditions as possible for a potted plant.  It is often needful that we have plants earlier, simply to get them a better roothold before the dry summer months come along.  We will be making a list of the perennial plants that do well and perform well for us in early, mid and late season gardens.    Please check back at this page to view a gallery of our perennial plants as well as some garden plantings using flowering perennials that work well for us.    

This page last modified on 04/16/2003