Perennials — Basic Maintenance
- Soil preparation is key to a great perennial bed. We recommend digging down and loosening the soil to a depth of 6”-12”. Add compost to your soil by roto-tilling or turning with a shovel.Well-drained soil is a must for perennials and the compost will help open up the soil. If possible, mound the planting beds to avoid low areas where water can sit and cause root rot.
- Mulching is recommended at a depth of 2” to help keep weeds down and conserve moisture during a hot summer. Compost or shredded bark may be used.
- Fertilizing may be done in spring with a 10-10-10 fertilizer if desired. Most perennial gardens do not need to be fertilized if compost was used to establish the bed. Additional fertilization is not necessary except for heavy blooming perennials such as daylilies, roses and astilbes.
- Watering is key to establishing your perennials after planting. Check them every other day for the first month. Once established, your perennials will need an inch of water per week. Morning watering is best because it will reduce the chance for disease and evaporation. When transplanting or dividing, water the night before. If possible, keep the foliage dry when watering to prevent disease.Water your plants through a dry fall but do not over water, as your plants need less moisture as they shut down for the year. Your plants will be tougher going into the winter with the proper moisture.
- Deadheading – removing spent blooms as they fade – will tidy the look of your garden and often promotes re-blooming.
- Pruning a leggy plant back by one third or to the basal foliage will encourage new growth and extend the life of your garden during the late summer.
- Division every 4 years may be needed to acquire the air movement needed around your plants to prevent disease. Overcrowding can cause the leaves of your perennials to stay wet and in turn cause leaf spot. Division can also give new life to an older plant. One sign that division is needed is when a dead space develops in the center of the plant.
- Weeding is an on going project. Heavy weeding will be needed in late spring, then on an as needed basis. Pre-emergent herbicides can be used in early spring to keep the weeds down. • Winter preparation is not extensive if you selected your perennials correctly. Most perennials can be cut back to keep the garden clean and neat for the winter. Many give winter interest and can be left up until early spring. It is best to cut these back as you see new growth emerging. Most perennials you will cut to the base, woody perennials are best left until they start leafing out, and then cut them back by one third.