How to Plant Nursery Perennials in Your Garden So They Thrive

When you bring home a new perennial in a pot, follow these easy steps for planting it in the ground. Your garden will be thriving in no time.

One of the most exciting parts of flower gardening is selecting new plants to add to your yard. There are so many gorgeous options to choose from, and when it comes to perennials, they will reward you for years to come with their colorful blooms and foliage. Spring and fall are the best times to plant perennials because the weather is cooler, giving the plants a chance to grow enough roots to deliver the water they'll need during the warmer months. When you buy potted perennials from a nursery or garden center, it's best to get your new plants in the ground as soon as possible. Make sure to follow these steps to get your perennials properly planted.

front flower plant garden with mulch base
Brie Passano

How to Plant a Perennial

First, gather the gear you'll need, such as gardening gloves and a shovel or trowel. Have a hose or full watering can available, too. Before planting your container-grown perennials, make sure to water them well. Well-hydrated plants tolerate and recover from the transplanting process better.

Step 1. Plan Out Your Design

Set out the plants in their pots where you want them to go before you start digging. It's much easier to move them around this way until you are happy with their arrangement. Look at the plant tags for mature size, then double-check that your plants will have enough space to reach their mature size without crowding each other.

preparing to dig flower bed with shovel
Brie Passano

Step 2. Dig a Hole

Remove any mulch from the soil surface where you want to plant your perennial. Then use a garden trowel or shovel to dig a hole deep enough to hold the plant at the same depth it was growing in the container. Remove any rocks or root clumps you come across while digging.

remove plant from container and prep for planting
Dean Schoeppner

Step 3. Remove the Pot

Firmly tap the bottom of the pot with a trowel handle and squeeze the sides of the pot to loosen the root ball if necessary. Slide the root ball out of its nursery pot, being careful not to pull on stems or leaves. Gently massage the bottom and sides of the root ball, and tease apart a few roots to encourage them to grow outwards once they're in the ground.

planting flower plant into garden bed hole
Brie Passano

Step 4. Tuck Your Plant in the Soil

Set the plant in the hole, checking that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. If not, adjust the height and fill in around the roots with soil. Water; then add more soil if needed to completely fill the hole. Replace or add mulch around your newly planted perennial, making sure it doesn't touch the stems.

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