Have a little patch of ground you’ve been wanting to plant some flowers in?…or maybe you fell in love with some perennial flowers on the cover of a magazine and now you just have to have them…..perfect!
We are going to go over 5 simple steps for you to have beautiful blooms that will come back for you each year.
STEPS 1 – 5
Step 1. Garden Location
Firstly, you need to figure out where you would like your garden. For a successful perennial garden, pick a spot that suits the plants you choose….are you a shade lover (like ferns, heuchera, astilbe), or are you a sun lover (coneflowers, goldenrod, rudbeckia.)
Keep this in mind, 6-8 hours daily is considered full-sun, 4-6 hours is “part-sun, and under 4 hours a day is considered full shade (even full shade plants like a little sun and usually the morning sun).
I would suggest somewhere where you can enjoy them as much as possible, maybe outside your kitchen window or maybe you have a favorite window you sit by to read a book or enjoy the outdoors.
Step 2. Figuring Out Your Soil
What type of soil do you have…
There are quite a few soil types, like sandy, silty, clay, loamy, peaty, chalky, or a combination.
Different plants prefer different soil types….some like sandy, or silty, while others tolerate clay, and some like that perfect combination-(Loamy – which is what most gardeners prefer)), and some just don’t care (I like these).
(If you are planting perennials that are native to your area, then the less pampering you will have to do because they are already adapted to the soil in the area.
So, here’s a little homework for you. Figure out your soil type or range rather….as this may help determine what you plant.
Also, do this test, where you want to plant as your soil will most likely be different in different parts of your yard.
- Here are two tests you can try at home:
- (Firstly, grab your shovel and head outside. Find a spot that your shovel will go in relatively easy. Dig a hole (maybe 12″ x 12″) – and with that dirt, check it out -get your hands in it, are there earthworms?- you want a lot of them! Look at it – is it rich and dark or light-colored and drab. Is it chalky or rocky? Did you hit a bunch of rocks or clay? NOW get some dirt in your hands and play with it like it’s playdough. Clay – will completely hold its shape and feel sticky and slick. Sand will….well you know what sand does-it will not hold any form and feel gritty. Loamy & Silty soils – will hold their shape for a bit, and feel smooth. Peaty soils will feel sponge-like.
- Now for test #2 – Grab a mason jar or something you can see through. fill it a 1/4 the way up with soil and the rest water. Shake it really well…and let it sit, for at least 12 hours.
(If you’re planting in a raised bed then this isn’t much of an issue because you will just buy and create the soil type you need.)
One thing I cannot stress enough is…..COMPOST! This stuff is a miracle worker and every garden needs it. This is what feeds your soil and plants.
You should add compost every growing season and a good 3″ – 4″ each time. (I want you to think of a forest floor….this is what you want to mimic to have healthy soil) – everything falls to the forest floor, stays there, and starts to decompose and this builds layer after layer of rich goodness.
Step 3. What To Grow
This step is my favorite part….What do you want to grow!?
What do you love? Are you going for a specific color or bloom (like the daisy)? Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ll find it.
What I recommend you do first is figure out your zone…if you know it great, if not go here: https://garden.org/nga/zipzone
So, now that you know your zone you can figure out what will survive your winters.
And if you are interested in natives (which I Highly recommend), then go here (I love this site!): https://www.nwf.org/nativeplantfinder/plants
Natives are already suited to your area and they require much less work.
So far, you have an idea of your soil type or range, you know your zone, and what plants you want to grow.
Step 4. How to Plant
Usually, when you purchase plants they will come with some instructions on how to plant them.
I pretty much do the same thing though to all my plants going in the ground.
If they are root-bound, I help them out by slicing (gently) some of the roots, usually from top to bottom (all the way underneath). I do this so that the roots don’t keep swirling around and choking out the plant. It also helps to get the roots going out into the ground as well, you want the roots going outward not in.
When digging your hole, make it twice as wide as the root ball and twice as deep. The reason for this is so the roots don’t have to work so hard to spread out.
This way you have provided a nice easy path for them with all the loose soil around and underneath.
Most plants like to be level with the ground, some like slightly above, but none like to be sunken down below ground level.
I once worked for a friend of mine that owned a landscaping company and he told me to dig a hole just like a “Hatbox”, round with a flat bottom.
The reason for this, is you do not want water pooling in the bottom rotting the roots.
5.) When to Plant
Hands down the best times to plant are Spring and Fall.
The goal is to not stress your plants out. And that is exactly what the heat of the summer is, a stressor and in the winter, well….good luck getting a shovel in the ground when it is frozen…who plants in winter anyway…go have some hot cocoa or something.
If I had to choose between spring and fall, I would go with fall…early fall. Fall planting gives the plant plenty of time to set strong roots. You don’t have to worry about watering so much and come spring your fall-planted flowers will bloom earlier than spring-planted ones.
So now you are set and ready to get started!
Happy Perennial Gardening…
Tagged: National Wildlife Federation, www.nwf.org
National Gardening Association, www.garden.org