Tips to get your Perennial Plants Growing Strong

Fort Collins Nursery Perennials
Look for the tan Fort Collins Nursery Pots for a sure sign that your perennials were grown right here in Fort Collins!

So you just bought a gorgeous perennial plant and you have visions of luscious fragrant flower beds floating through your imagination. What needs to happen between buying this plant and making that dream come true? Here’s a few tips to get you going in the right direction:

1. Make sure you have the right location in your yard for your plant. Every plant has unique needs, but here’s some general conditions for different types of plants:

    • Perennials for Sun – These plants tend to prefer full sun to partial shade, which means at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Afternoon sun is preferable to morning sun. They generally need a little more water than Mother Nature provides, so be sure they are in an irrigated bed, or at least can be reached with a hose. They type of soil these need can vary, so be sure to check the plant tag or ask a Fort Collins Nursery expert for advice.
    • Low Water Perennials – These plants are Xeriscape superstars. While they may need a few drinks of water while they are establishing a root system, the can run with little to no extra water once established. In fact, many of these plants fail because they receive too much water and their roots rot. These plants tend to be very tolerant of heavy soils, and like the Perennials for Sun, need lots of direct sunlight throughout the day. (More thoughts on xeriscapes here).
    • Perennials for Shade – These perennials thrive in shady locations, and often appreciate a slightly more moist environment than their sun-loving relatives. They need protection from sunlight – if they will be receiving direct sunlight, it should be in the morning when air temperatures are cooler – afternoon sun will burn these plants. Many perennials for shade also enjoy protection from drying winds.

2. Prepare your soil before you plant. You can have the best plant in the world and water and fertilize it perfectly, but without the right soil, your plants won’t thrive.

    • Not all plants desire rich loamy soil. Be sure you know what your plants want before you go loading compost and peat moss into your flower beds.
    • If you are unsure what your soil is like, consider getting a Soil Test. These soil analyses are performed by the Colorado State University Soil Lab and tell you a lot about your soil that you probably never knew. They include useful information about things like nutrient levels, salt content, organic matter, and pH. Soil Tests are recommended before making any major changes to your soil, or if you have problems growing plants in a certain area and you suspect their may be something wrong with your soil. A Fort Collins Nursery expert can help you interpret the results and choose appropriate follow-up steps.

3. Use a root stimulator when planting. This can come in one of several forms. Fertilome Root Stimulator is a great liquid fertilizer. Other tried and true options include Hi-Yield Bone Meal, Hi-Yield Super Phosphate, or Age Old Organics Root Rally w/mycorrhizae.

4. Be prepared to do a little follow-up maintenance to ensure your plants stay strong and establish themselves well.

    • Your plants will need a little more water when getting established than they will need in the long run. A good rule of thumb is to check the soil around the base of the plant by sticking your finger down 2″-3″ below the surface of the soil. The soil should feel cool and moist, but not saturated, like a sponge which has had all the excess water wrung from it but still feels moist to the touch. If it is wetter than that, don’t water it yet. If it is that dry or drier, give it a drink. after a month or so in the ground, you can ease back on watering, depending on the specific plant, as it will have established some deeper roots with which it can seek out its own water.
    • A good slow-release fertilizer like Osomocote Outdoor & Indoor can feed your plants for up to 4 months, eliminating the need for constant attention. A good organic alternative would be the Happy Frog All Purpose Fertilizer.

Any questions, just ask us! We take pride in being your perennial experts. We grow over 58,000 #1 perennials on site each year, which is over 90% of the perennials we sell. We offer over 1,200 unique varieties of perennials, ornamental grasses, and vines. We have tons of Colorado Certified Nursery Professionals on staff to help you succeed. We are your partners in perennial success.

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Originally published on May 21st, 2012. Updated on September 8th, 2017.