From the Desk of Ed Hume: Selecting and Planting Perennials

August 1, 2012 at 12:09 PM Leave a comment

It’s a great time to start selecting and planting perennials!

Today there are so many new and unusual perennials on the market that you might want to take a little time to become familiar with some of them.  Many of them certainly merit a place in the garden.  For example, recently when I visited a local garden center I discovered the Chinese pagoda primrose with its unusual pyramidal pink and purple flowers.  It’s an ideal plant for the shady garden, because not only is it beautiful, but it flowers during the summer, so it extends the primrose flowering season.

New varieties of Heuchera, Echinacea, Coreopsis, Penstemon and so many other perennials are now being featured at garden outlets.  The new colors and color combinations are striking and make a great addition to the summer garden. In addition to their beauty in the garden, many make excellent cut flowers too!

Since these perennials are grown in containers, they can easily be transplanted into the garden.  Here are a few suggestions I recommend for successfully planting perennials from their nursery containers during warmer summer weather:

•First, prepare the planting soil by adding some organic compost, peat moss, or well-rotted manure, mixing it with your existing soil.

•Second, before you remove the perennial from its pot be certain to water it thoroughly.  In fact, I like to submerge it pot and all in a bucket of water for a few seconds, until the air bubbles quit making a sound.

•Third, carefully turn the plant, pot and all, upside-down.  Then tap the edge of the pot so the plant will gently slip out of the container. I cover the surface soil with one hand as I do this so the root ball does not break apart Hold the root ball securely in your hands as you turn the plant right side up again.  If the roots of the plant have grown to the edge of the root ball and have matted together, gently massage them so they can grow outward into the new planting soil.

•Fourth, now you are ready to set your new perennial into the prepared planting soil.  Set it so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.  Next you may want to make a shallow sauce of soil around the base of the plant to help hold some water near the roots the next time you water it.

•Fifth, water-in with a weak solution of a liquid plant-food.

Once you do this two or three times you’ll find it only takes a few minutes to properly plant any perennial.

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