Planning Your Perennials

It is easy enough to change the annual plants you select for your garden each year from free seed catalogs, but planning your perennials should take a bit more planning. Perennials are plants that will stay in your garden over several years or until you decide to change or move them. Annuals can be planted around them in each new garden for a new look. The plants that stay many seasons will only change in size providing the same color display each year. You will want to make sure it is the right plant for your garden spot before you try to garden around it for many seasons. You will also want to know what size it can grow to so you ensure it has enough space from one year to the next.

Perennials can make lovely blossoms for cutting and indoor arrangements. In many cases the new growth of the plant will not bloom for a year or two. This means that cut blooms will have strong stems for arrangements. The more flowers your trim off, the more it will reproduce until it is allowed to go to seed. This means you may find yourself forced to have a house full of flowers and gift flowers to everyone you know if you have a large flower garden.

Picking Perennials

The top concern with perennials is freshness. The plants are often shipped bareroot during their dormancy for the least chance of damage, but ironically, mildew and dry conditions are the two most common hazards. Understandably, it’s hard to achieve the perfect balance between too wet and too dry, but if your plants arrive either moldy or shriveled, you have cause for complaint and (hopefully) a refund.

As with any mail-order plant, obtain several catalogs in each category so you can comparison shop, watch out for plant size, and find out if they can ship to your state before filling out the order form. Also, check where the plants come from, not only to avoid poaching, but to see if they will undergo shock-it can be tough (or even deadly) for plants to grow up in California and suddenly find themselves trying to cope in Maine.

The variety of perennials available from catalogs is astounding-from sturdy fruit trees to delicate water lilies. In many cases, a catalog can be the only place you’ll ever see an unusual variety or species you’ve been looking for, especially if there’s not much call for it in your local nursery.

If you want to know more about perennials and how to help them grow better in all seasons you can find gardening advise in many places on the Internet. Most  catalogs, garden supply and nursery sites will offer helpful hints and even a help line if you have questions not already covered.