Creating a perennial garden offers homeowners increased dimension in the landscape. Unlike annual flowers, perennial plants return every year just like trees and shrubs. Perennials become semi-permanent landscape features that provide reliable color and foliage year after year. Perennial garden planting requires careful preparation of the location to ensure a long happy life for the plants.
Gardeners choose perennial plants as one of many options for the landscape. Perennial plants feature foliage that dies off above ground in the winter. The roots remain alive underground and produce shoots that appear in the spring. Perennial gardens are prized for the ornamental characteristics of the plant. Interesting foliage, unique flowers and color help gardeners decide which type of perennial plant works best in the landscape. Select perennials based on your own USDA hardiness zone to ensure the plant can overwinter safely in your climate.
Perennial garden planting requires evaluation to match plants with the proper planting site. Like other plants, perennials have specific sunlight, soil and watering requirements. Some perennials tolerate full sun exposure for over six hours each day. Others need the four to six hours each day of a partial sun garden. The shade-tolerant perennial plants require either two to four hours of sun for partial shade or no direct sun at all for full-shade perennials. Shade perennials have adapted to low-light conditions to allow the gardener to landscape areas under trees and next to buildings.
Perennial plants last for a long time in the landscape. This long life requires careful establishment of an excellent planting site. Perform a soil analysis before establishing the perennial garden. Use the results to determine which additives will increase soil quality to ensure the success of your plants. Cultivate the entire garden bed to a depth of at least 18 inches to promote healthy spread of perennial plant roots. Cultivation loosens soil and eases the blending of soil additives throughout the soil layers.
Nurseries provide perennials in plastic pots ranging in size from 4 inches to 1 gallon. These plants spend their entire lives in the nursery environment in the confines of a pot. Once purchased, the perennials needs help transitioning to the wide expanses of the garden. Focus your attention on the roots after carefully removing the planting container. Loosen the soil around the roots using a fine stream of water or your fingers. This simple preparation technique promotes outward root growth after planting. Dig perennial planting holes twice as wide as the pot. Match planting depth to the depth of the pot. Perennial roots should lie right below the level garden surface.
Perennials allow gardeners to create a garden based on individual preferences. The key to perennial garden design lies in selecting plants that bloom at different times to provide continual color during the summer growing season. Most flowering perennials bloom for a two- to three-week period. As a result, gardeners should choose plants based on other pleasing characteristics to accommodate non-bloom times. Perennials such as hosta or ornamental grass provide foliage interest to frame other plants in the garden. Perennial garden planting isn't only limited to use of perennial plants. Successful garden beds often feature a blend of annual flowering plants in the border with shrubs interspersed with perennial plants.