How to Care for Perennial Plants


Plant perennials in a garden or flower bed, and with a minimal amount of care, you'll have lovely, green plants for many years. Perennial plants generally are the first and most important feature to consider when creating a flower garden, with colorful annuals planted for color and contrast every spring. Available in a nearly endless variety of colors, sizes and textures, perennials are bound to add interest to the landscape.

Step 1

Plant perennials where the plants will be exposed to the proper amount of sunshine for the particular variety. Check the tag on the plant's nursery container for specifics.

Step 2

Prepare the soil for perennials ahead of time. Remove any stones or large dirt clods. Cultivate the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, using a shovel or garden fork. Work in 3 to 5 inches of compost, peat moss or manure. Add 2 to 3 lbs. of all-purpose granular fertilizer for every 100 square feet of planting area.

Step 3

Water perennials deeply, especially during the first year. Water at the base of the plant, allowing the water to penetrate to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, then allow the soil to dry out slightly before the next watering. Water perennials early in the day so the foliage has time to dry before evening to prevent disease.

Step 4

Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch, such as dry grass or bark chips, around perennials to keep the soil cool, retain moisture and deter weeds.

Step 5

Stake tall perennials to keep the plants from falling or blowing over. Install metal or wooden stakes when the plants are still small to prevent damage to the roots. Attach the stem to the stake using garden ties, strips of nylon pantyhose or soft fabric as the plant grows.

Step 6

Prepare perennials for winter by spreading a fresh 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the plants. Leave the foliage in place for spring to provide food and shelter for birds, if you wish, or it can be pruned to about 2 to 3 inches.

Step 7

Fertilize perennial plants every spring by applying a small handful of balanced fertilizer around the plant. Repeat every six weeks until mid-summer. Don't fertilize in autumn, as new growth will make the plant more susceptible to winter freezes.

Step 8

Pinch the stem tips occasionally to keep growth bushy and to prevent tall, spindly plants. Remove dead blooms to encourage blooming and to prevent the plant from going to seed too early.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel or garden fork
  • Compost, peat moss or manure
  • All-purpose granular fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Wooden or metal stakes
  • Garden ties, strips of nylon pantyhose or soft fabric


  • Cornel University: Caring for Perennials
  • Purdue University: Growing Perennial Flowers
Keywords: fertiize perennial plants, water perennials, care for perennials

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.