Start your garden off right by taking care to plant your perennials properly. The following tips will help you get started.
- Soak bare-root perennials in a bucket of water for an hour before planting. Bare roots have been out of their element (moist soil) while handled and shipped. Letting them soak up a little extra moisture can refresh moisture levels so the roots can grow vigorously in the weeks ahead.
- Shake the potting mix off the roots of potted perennials and plant them like bare-root perennials. Larger perennials sold in 1- or 2-quart-size containers are perfect candidates for this. The reason for doing this is that peat potting mixes can complicate plant establishment in the soil. The roots of perennials grown in peat-based mixes can have difficulty growing out of the peat and into the native soil. In addition, peat can quickly become parched in drying soils, causing root damage. Getting the peat out eliminates both of these problems and can help new perennials get established faster than you ever thought possible
- Space large, slow-growing perennials properly at the start. Big hostas, goat's beard, gas plants, and roses, for example, can be hard to move once they are established. Ask at the nursery or check in a garden encyclopedia for information on how big the plant will get. Then be sure to allow enough space for the plant to reach its mature limits without overcrowding.
- Make an artificial bog for plants that need constantly wet soil. Then you will be able to grow swamp irises, variegated cattails, ligularias, and other water-loving plants. Begin by deciding where you want the bog garden to be located. They are natural companions for fountains, water gardens, bridges, or streams. Dig out a deep trench or swale for the bog garden, then line the hole with plastic. Set a perforated hose in the bottom, with an end emerging from one side to connect with your household hose. Fill the hole with rich soil and plant bog natives. You can irrigate through the submerged hose as needed to keep the garden constantly moist.
In our next section, we'll show you how to care for your perennials.