How to Plant Perennials
July 16, 2020
You can plant perennials anytime, however, they establish best in the early spring, or mid-summer to fall. Now is a great time to design and plan for perennial installations as the plants are becoming more accessible at the nurseries beginning in July and stretching through September. Approaching a homeowner with a smart perennial design where they have time to make decisions on preferred plants is a good plan.
Understanding a plant's growth habits, watering needs, and sun requirements are particularly important in the planting process for a plant that will be in the ground multiple seasons. Therefore, determine a plan by drawing out a rough design on computer or paper. Be sure to consider the full expected size of the plant once mature so you do not overcrowd the beds.
Raised Beds versus Double Digging
Although many recommend double digging a perennial bed, it can be better to preserve the deep soil structure by raising the bed above ground whenever possible. Raise your bed by placing six to twelve inches of good compost and planting soil mix on top of the ground after all grass has been removed. Plant perennials directly into the new soil. Eventually the worms and microbes will do their work and the soil you have placed on top of the ground will begin to loosen and blend with the decomposing soil beneath.
However, if you do not have the ability to build a raised bed, then remove all grass and weeds and prepare the existing bed by mixing three inches of organic matter in with the topsoil. Consider using worm castings, rotted manure, and leaf mold as well as adding any soil amendments your soil tests have shown you need. Plant perennials in holes that are twice as big as the root ball, add two inches of mulch, and water the garden well. Maintain the garden by adding more compost and organic soil amendments to perennial beds in future years as you are able. By improving the soil regularly over the seasons, the perennial plants will have a longer life.
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