The Beauty and Benefits of Perennials
Color and easy maintenance is what every gardener wants in their yard. Perennials are a great way to get the color you need and they are relatively easy to maintain.
Unlike annuals, perennials come back for years and provide additional variety and interest to your garden, even when not in bloom.
Spring and Fall are the best times of the year to install perennials in your yard, but as long as you water them vigilantly on hot days, you can really add perennials to your yard any time you can work the soil.
Most perennials bloom for a 2-3 week period. Try to incorporate some that bloom at different times of the year so you have a continual bloom cycle. Try to look for perennials with interesting foliage or interesting growth habits. Some people install perennials just for their foliage!
Perennial Planting Tips
The easiest way to get started is by making your bed wider so you can add a row in front of your existing shrubs. Plant spacing is based on variety, and usually is around 12-18 inches apart. Try to plant in masses (typically in groupings of 3 or 5) for best appeal. Also plant perennials that bloom at different times throughout the seasons so you can have blooms from Spring to Fall.
An important thing to remember is that the amount of shade or sun your yard receives dictates what varieties to plant. If you have shady areas plant shade-loving or shade tolerant plants.
Try to avoid putting plants that need a little shade in areas that receive full sun (they will require frequent watering to stay healthy and may be more susceptible to insects and diseases). The same applies to sun-loving plants; avoid putting plants that need lots of sun in shady areas (they won't bloom as well and they may become spindly or develop diseases).
There are so many perennials available in garden centers today, that you can find ones for almost any growing condition! Have fun and try out new color and foliage combinations. The sky is truly the limit for designing a beautiful and low-maintenance perennial garden!
Information provided by Jim Connolly, MCH MCLP and Northeast Nursery Horticulture Staff