Posted on: August 27, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster |
The tomatoes have a bit of natural chill as they are pulled off the vine early in the morning. The angle of the sun is noticeably lower as the days get shorter, signaling the start of an important season for gardeners.
This is prime time for planting perennials, plants that return on their own each season. Nothing can compete with annuals that bloom from frost to frost, but many gardeners increase the number of perennials for low-maintenance blooms. Most flower for a short time but often have interesting foliage.
Nurseries and garden centers are bringing in fresh plant material right now, but there are also deals to be had on plants that have been sitting on the shelves for months. One of the reasons to buy from a good nursery is that those plants have been properly watered and fertilized during the season. They also will sell only plants that are hardy in your area. Be sure you know which planting zone your garden is in if ordering plants online.
Before perusing all the different cultivars at the garden center, spend some time looking over your garden. Where’s a good spot for a tall sun lover or a corner that would be the perfect home for a squatty shade plant?
The right plant in the right place will make all the difference in the world.
When visiting your favorite nursery, take some time to explore. I often watch couples coming to the garden center as if they were at the grocery store, just hoping to get out as quickly as possible. That’s not the way to shop for plants. It should be fun, and every retailer has areas with special plants, sometimes for special prices. Personally, I’m in heaven exploring the nooks and crannies of garden centers, discovering treasures that will hopefully outlive the gardener.
One thing every plant will benefit from is an application of good compost to the planting hole. Dig the hole three times as wide as the container, add compost liberally and mix it with the native soil. Make sure the depth is correct by setting the pot in the hole, never deeper than it was originally planted. Remove the plant from its pot and examine the roots. If the plant is root bound, with the roots circling around, gently tease them apart and place the plant in the ground and backfill with the compost/soil mixture.
Water right away to get the plant off to a good start and, if rain is scarce, add water once a week until the ground freezes. Mulching is also a good idea, but never let it touch the bottom of the plant’s stem. It should look more like a donut than a volcano. Mulch keeps the soil evenly moist and will act as a blanket for the roots when things get cold again.
I’m often asked, “What should I plant?” Here are my favorite perennials, but there are countless different plants available. Don’t be afraid to try something that’s not on the list if you find it to be beautiful.
Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or email@example.com. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at everybodygardens.com.