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Planting perennials4 November 2011
Put in some herbaceous perennials now so they settle well for next year
WITH GARDENING I find the best way for me to keep on top of jobs is to spread them out. I always plant some herbaceous perennials in the spring, but I also like to plant some in the autumn to balance my workload. In fact some perennials do better planted now; with late frosts and very changeable weather in spring, the perennials I plant in autumn seem to fair better.
This is because the soil is moist and still warm enough for the roots to establish and settle. It gives the plant a good start to grow and flower next year. Obviously if you live in an area prone to early frosts you may have to re-think your timings, but in most of the UK, October planting is perfect for perennials. These plants are the backbone to our borders or containers, adding height, texture and colour. Don’t feel you have to just put tall plants at the back. Fill gaps in the middle with tall plants and medium plants in the front to avoid a regimented look and to create a natural flow. So follow my tips on these pages on planting perennials now.
Plant a range of perennials that will give you colour and interest throughout the year. You might try helleborus for spring, alstroemeria for summer and Acanthus spinosus for autumn colour.
Take the time to get the spacing right. If planting in autumn think about how big they will grow next year when in flower and growth.
Be brave and plant one thing out of your comfort zone. This will improve your confidence in planting and co-ordinating your border.
Fill gaps with autumn planted bulbs to create an ongoing display of flowers from late winter and throughout spring and summer.
When buying on-line take note of the size of the plant’s container. Some may come very small and be a disappointment if you were expecting a bigger plant.
Label perennials after planting, especially if they die back, so you can remember where they are in your bed for next season
Planting herbaceous perennials step by step
Water the plant well if in a container. Bare root perennials need to soak in a bucket of water for an hour or two. Dig a hole twice the size of the rootball.
Check for signs of pest and disease on roots; tease roots slightly apart if from a container. Add some Mycorrhizal fungi to the planting hole.
Pop the plant in, backfill with soil, firm and water in. Label the plant, or keep a note of variety and size if you think too many labels look unsightly.
Some perennials are best planted in spring
SOME HERBACEOUS perennials are best planted after the last spring frosts. The perennials that are best suited to spring planting, are those which are half-hardy or tender, though this will depend on where you are in the UK.
Spring planted perennials may also flower slightly later and may not be at their best until the year after. Plant perennials in spring the same way as in autumn. Those planted in spring may need more watering and protection against late frost or early heat. The ones to keep waiting are: