How to Plant Perennial Flowers


Perennial flowering plants are a joy to watch, quietly and beautifully completing the full life cycle of birth, growth, and death, only to return the following year like a miracle. To grow perennial flowers to their fullest potential, bed preparation and proper planting techniques are essential. Choose plants that will remain hardy in your climate zone for best results.

Step 1

Choose a location that will provide the correct light level for the perennials you will plant. Some full sun, flowering perennials include cornflower, candytuft, and veronica. Columbine, lenton rose, and coral bells will thrive in shade. Combining plants without regard for light requirements will end in disappointing results.

Step 2

Start the process of preparing a new perennial bed up to a year early. Weed elimination is essential, and should be done while they are blooming. Apply an herbicide per manufacturer directions, and wait up to two weeks until all the weeds appear brown and wilted. After the weeds are dead, till the ground and wait an additional week. Repeat the herbicide application if necessary. A natural route to weed elimination requires a cover of plastic sheeting, wet mulch or newspapers. This method could take as many as six months to completely cure your weed problem.

Step 3

Till the ground to a depth of 12 inches just before planting in the early spring. Incorporate four inches of organic matter, such as composted pine bark or leaf compost, to improve drainage and provide nutrients for the perennials.

Step 4

Add a slow release fertilizer as you cultivate the ground, at a rate of about two lbs. per 100 square feet. This is equal to a perennial bed that measures 10 by 10 feet.

Step 5

Dig a hole for each perennial, just deep enough so they will sit in the prepared bed at the same level as they sat in the container. Typically, perennials are available in one quart up to two gallon size pots.

Step 6

Gently squeeze the sides of the container to loosen the plant and slide it out into your hand. Loosen roots and set the plant into the hole, gently back-filling with prepared bed soil. Firm the top soil with your hand.

Step 7

Add two inches of mulch around new plants to the edge of the bed, to aid in moisture retention and discourage weeds.

Step 8

Soak the soil around the new perennials. Water deeply once per week or as needed to keep the plants well hydrated. Avoid over watering as this can cause root rot or other plant issues.

Things You'll Need

  • Perennial plants or seeds
  • Herbicide
  • Organic compost
  • Organic mulch
  • Shovel
  • Slow release fertilizer


  • University of Illinois Extension, Gardening with Perennials: Bed Preparation
  • University of Illinois Extension, Gardening with Perennials: Planting and Transplanting
  • University of Illinois Extension, Gardening with Perennials: After Planting Care

Who Can Help

  • Colorado State University Extension, Perennial Gardening
Keywords: planting perennials, perennial plant care, preparing perennial beds

About this Author

Desirae Roy holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, with a focus on reading and special education. Also an interpreter for the deaf, she facilitates communication for students who learn in an inspiring way. Roy cultivates a life long love of learning and enjoys sharing her journey with others through writing.