How to Take Care of Perennial Plants


Perennial plants provide a host of options to add color and interest to the home landscape. Perennial plants include any cultivar that returns each spring for two consecutive years with new growth, increased size and blooms. Roots go dormant in the winter and revive as the soil warms in the spring. Perennial plant care involves choosing the correct location for the plant as well as continued maintenance to keep the plant healthy. Learning how to take of these gorgeous additions to the home garden requires individual plant care as well as good gardening techniques.

Step 1

Select an initial location that matches the sunlight and soil needs of the plant. Examine the planting label provided with each plant to determine if the plant requires a full sun, partial sun, partial shade or full shade planting site. Retain the plant label near the plant or with gardening supplies for future reference.

Step 2

Stir up the garden soil with a cultivator, rototiller or shovel to a depth of at least 8 inches. Loosening soil allows water to penetrate all layers of dirt around the plant root rather than pooling or running off compacted soil layers. Enrich the garden soil with additives such as peat moss or compost to provide nutrients for plant roots.

Step 3

Don't plant the perennial too deeply. Place the top of the root ball no more than 2 inches below the soil surface. Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch to promote water retention and discourage weed growth around each perennial.

Step 4

Water regularly to encourage deep absorption of moisture around the perennial's root ball. Trickle water around the plant base in a light stream for 10 minutes. Deeper moisture retention in the soil results in less water consumption and a healthier plant.

Step 5

Revisit the plant label to determine when the plant blooms. Watch for those flowers and monitor the appearance of dead blooms. Clip dead blooms off directly behind the flower head during times of active blooming. Deadheading in this manner causes the plant to direct energy to further bloom production and sometimes causes the perennial plant to produce another round of blooms later in the growing season.

Step 6

Trim back foliage after blooming completes to remove spent blooms and dying foliage. Gardeners choose perennials for blooms and foliage because these plants tend to only bloom for short periods of time. Make pruning cuts at a 45-degree angle directly above a pair of leaves. Create a pleasing shape with the remaining foliage by rounding the top and removing any dead or diseased foliage.

Step 7

Continue watering the perennial regularly into the fall months. Leave foliage to die naturally and apply a protective layer of mulch to a 3-inch depth to encourage even soil temperatures around the roots during the cool winter months.

Step 8

Wake the perennial plant up in the spring by gently pulling back the mulch layer. Shoots will appear at the base of the plant. At this point, prune back dead foliage to the ground and clean out plant debris from around the perennial.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller (optional)
  • Shovel
  • Peat moss or compost
  • Mulch
  • Pruning clippers


  • University of Vermont: Spring in the Perennial Garden
  • University of Alabama Cooperative Extension Service: Maintaining Perennials
  • University of Illinois: After Planting Care

Who Can Help

  • USDA: USDA Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: care for perennials, perennial plant care, perennial care

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.