While you enjoy your perennials for their fantastic foliage or beautiful blooms, it is really the roots you're buying -- because the roots allow the plants to come back every year. Use these tips to make sure your perennials get off to the right start.
Container-grown perennials are easy to plant and commonly available. Start by digging a hole that's a little wider but no deeper than the pot your new perennial came in. Loosen the roots and spread them out if the plant has become rootbound (when the roots start to grow in circles around the edge of the pot). Then firm the soil in around the roots and water well.
Bare-root perennials are typically less expensive than container-grown versions of the same plant. They're usually available in early spring and are sold as their name suggests -- just the plant roots, usually packed in peat moss or a similar material. Soak the roots in water, before planting them in the ground.
Water your perennials well after you plant them. Then lay a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch over the soil around your new plants. The mulch will help the soil hold moisture and prevent weeds from growing.
Give taller perennials such as delphiniums, hollyhocks, and peonies support by staking them. Anchor single stems by inserting a rod or sturdy stick into the ground and tying the stem to it. Keep clump-forming plants with multiple stems standing by growing them through a hoop (as shown here).
Continued on page 2: Deadheading & Dividing