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How to Care for Perennial Flowers

By S.F. Heron ; Updated September 21, 2017
A shasta daisy flower features a bright yellow center and white petals.
daisy image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com

Perennial flowers provide considerable visual interest to the home landscape with different bloom times, styles of foliage and color. Perennials represent the class of plants that reappear each spring after above-ground growth dies off in the fall. The root system flourishes underground, preparing to grace the garden with a stunning floral display the following year. Care for perennial flowers involve preparation of the initial site when planting, pruning while blooming and winterizing the plant.

Select plants for the perennial garden based on sunlight requirements. This initial choice often dictates the success of the perennial. Tailor your choices to meet exact planting requirements listed on the label provided with each plant. Follow guidelines for sun requirements, soil amendments, watering and fertilizer requirements.

Prepare the planting bed by cultivating the soil to a depth of at least eight to 12 inches. Stir up the soil to promote easy spreading of perennial roots. Amend the soil with compost or peat moss to create a mixture of two parts soil to one part additive. Mix into the top layers of cultivated soil.

Allow the original planting container depth to dictate the depth of planting in the garden. It's best to use a similar planting depth to avoid planting the perennial too deeply. The top of the root ball should lie about one to two inches below the garden level before adding mulch.

Fill in around the plant and water carefully around the base of the main stem. This watering method allows moisture to percolate down into the soil to benefit the perennial's roots.

Mulch around the base of the perennial to keep soil temperatures cool during the summer months. This mulch base will also benefit the root system by regulating soil temperature in the winter.

Monitor the plant during blooming periods and clip off dead blooms to encourage the production of new flowers. Deadhead by clipping at the point where the flower joins the stem. Pruning directs energy to additional flower production instead of seed formation. Once the plant finishes blooming, tidy up the plant's appearance by clipping two to three inches of the flower stems to right above a leaf.

Do not remove or cut back dead foliage in the fall. Allow the plant to die naturally while continuing to water the garden regularly. Roots continue development and still have the same moisture requirements during the cooler months. Apply a three- to four-inch layer of mulch over the dead perennial foliage in early winter as a blanket to protect against intense freezing.

Pull back the layer of mulch so the perennial can choose the correct time and temperature to send up new shoots. Once new shoots appear, clip back old foliage to allow emergence of new leaves.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Cultivator
  • Peat moss/compost
  • Pruning clippers
  • Mulch


  • Tailor fertilizer application based on plant needs. If the plant looks spindly and produces few flowers, apply a high-quality soluble fertilizer to the perennial flowering plant.