A mix of perennials accents the garden throughout the season. The mix should be for color, texture, size, and time of bloom. But for all of the beauty of perennials, they are not a `no’ maintenance part of a landscape.
Perennial’s colors should be grouped together. Groups are usually odd numbers of a type of perennial. Three bright yellow coreopsis give a blast of color. Five Blue Carpet Veronicas create a blooming border. Whole gardens can be a mix of perennials of one color.
Plant odd numbers for texture and size, too. Use both three red and two white Jupiter’s Beard for an attractive planting of five. The plants will be the same size and texture but the two colors add to the accent.
Knowing when perennials bloom is the key to using them. If you plant only perennials that bloom in early spring, you won’t have much of a show in July and August. Most perennial books have charts which include the time of bloom. Or ask your garden center professional.
Regular maintenance keeps a perennial garden beautiful all season long. Discourage weeds with organic mulch. Pulling weeds when they are young is the easiest. Once weeds get rooted in they are a big problem. Some perennials can become weeds. We have barren strawberry encroaching on everything else. Be ruthless and regular with your weeding. Don’t be afraid to cut back plants.
Deadheading is another regular part of perennial garden maintenance. Deadheading is exactly what it sounds like. It’s cutting off the dead flower heads. Some plants that only bloom once a season like Peonies are easy. You cut the old flowers off once and you’re done. Some plants, like Goat’s Beard and Pincushion Flower, you don’t want to deadhead because they have an interesting seed heads.
To keep longer blooming plants looking their best, regular deadheading is necessary. Many perennials need individual flowers cut out. Cut Coreopsis and Lavender flowers stems all the way down to the leaves of the plant. This encourages new flowers and longer bloom time.
A well maintained perennial bed is an anchor in the landscape. Regular weeding, deadheading and cutting back aggressive plants keeps perennials at their peak.
Originally published on May 12th, 2011.