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All About Perennial Plants  
Perennials are plants that come back year after year, bringing joy to all who plant and watch them grow.

Everywhere you turn there is someone touting the joys of perennial gardens on televisions, in print or over your backyard fence. Just what the heck is all this talk about and should you have a perennial garden in your yard? Simply stated the answer is Yes!

Investing in perennials is an investment in tomorrow. All perennials will spread as they grow from year to year. They will increase in size and in the number of blooms produced each season. In a few short years, you will be rewarded with an array of plants ranging from one end of the colour spectrum to the other.


Selecting Perennials

There are literally thousands of different types of plants that fall into the perennial category so the choices are endless. They come in such a variety of shape, size, color and texture that one can create many different looks for any yard, be it a large estate or the tiniest town plot.

Since there are so many choices when looking at perennials it is important to make a planting plan. Perennials range in size from the tiny matt forming 'Blue Star Creeper" (about 1" tall) to the gigantic, fall flowerinfg Confederate Rose Hibiscus that reaches up to 10' in height! It is good to know the final height of a perennial plants in order to place them appropriately in your garden.

You should also get to know the bloom period of each plant. Some perennials will bloom for a month or so while others will bloom all season as many annuals do. Most people like to have a succession of blooms from earliest spring to the last fall frost so plant choices are important. It's good to have a mix of perennial plants in your garden in order to achieve this prolonged blooming.

Another consideration is where are you going to put these plants? Will the bed be sunny or shady? Perennials, just like annuals have their preferences and this should be taken into account when choosing your perennials.

The sun loving perennials prefer a sunny site that is well drained soil. There are many outstanding shade loving perennials that do well in shade, growing beautifully where you cannot get grass to grow. Also there are other perennials that like damp conditions, while other drought tolerant perennials require very little if any water.


Planning Your Perennial Garden

When planning for the size of a perennial garden it's a good rule of thumb to make the beds 1' in width for every 4' of length, however there is not set size or shape. So a garden that is 20' in length might be at 5' deep. If you can make it deeper all the better for there will be more room for big, impressive plants with masses of flowers and more plants of differing heights and textures, as well as differing bloom periods.

Now, choosing which perennials to use in specific sites. There are a great number of books about perennials on the market, each geared to different levels and tastes, or you can simply use the free information provided right here at Wilson Bros Online! When choosing your perennials try to achieve a balance between tall and short, early bloomers and late, differing colors and textures. Visit the Perennial Home Page to find listings of all the various types of perennials that perform well in the Atlanta metro area, and other areas of the south.

Perhaps the most popular perennial garden themes these days involve butterfly perennials and hummingbird perennials. Almost equally as popular are perennials for cut flowers.

Interest and use of perennial herbs, whether alone or mixed in the perennial garden, is steadily growing in popularity as many people use them for cullinary purposes as well as ornamental value.

Sketch you garden out ona sheet of paper after you've selected the species an varieties you want to include.

Perennial Listings by Category

Sun Loving - Here's a list of perennial plants that like to receive sunshine all day long. Many of the varieties listed here bloom all season long , attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and make excellent cut flowers.
  Shade Loving Here's a list of perennials that prefer life on the shady side. Some will tolerate morning sun. Perfect for those shady areas under trees where grass won't grow.
  Attracting Butterflies Plant some of these butterfly magnets in you landscape and watch as the butterflies flock to them. We've seen what must have been over 100 butterflies on a Miss Huff's Lantana!
  Attracting Hummingbirds There are hundreds of plants that hummingbirds will visit but this list includes their favorites for Zone 8. Watch the hummingbirds flock to the flowers on these plants.
  Moisture Retentive / Bog Soils Don't fill that boggy area of your yard in with dirt! Plant these moisture loving perennials in those damp or boggy areas and turn a liability into an eye-catching asset.
  Drought Tolerant / Rock Garden Have an area where nothing will seem to grow because it's just too dry? Here is a list of perennial plants that like it high and dry. These guys get along great with boulders/rocks.
  Cutflowers Plant some of these perennials together in a garden and you'll be bringing nature indoors to enjoy spring, summer, and fall! Why pay for cutflowers when you can grow your own!
  Fragrance Plant these fragrant wonders near decks, patios, swings, or any other outdoor sitting areas where you and your guests will enjoy them.
  Steppables / Between Stepping Stones or Pavers Looking for something to grow between those stepping stones? Here is a short list of ones that we have found to be tough, long-lived, and hardy in Zone 8.
  Longest Bloomers Here is a list of perennials that bloom anywhere from 2 to 10 months out of the year!
  Fall Bloomers Just when most perennial flowering plants are finishing up blooming for the spring and summer season these fall bloomers are just getting started!


Planting Perennials

There are different methods for planting perennials in the garden. Visit Instructions For Planting A Perennial to find the way we like to plant them. Some folks say its best to till up the entire garden area, however, we've found that this can bring lots of buried weeds seeds to the surface and also promotes invasiveness of certain types of perennials, or weeds that may sprout. Of course you can till the entire area if you like. We prefer not to disturb all the soil in the garden. Instead we do the following:

  • Plot the perimeter of the garden out with marker paint, flour or a garden hose.
  • Then spray to kill any existing weeds or grass with Killzall Super Concentrate. You'll have to wait a week or so to make sure you killed all the weeds. Respray if necessary. For tough to kill grasses such as burmuda you should use Over-The-Top spray by Fertilome.
  • While waiting the week or so for the weeds to die use the time to develop a plan by investigating what type of perennials you will want to use in your garden. During your investigation make sure to write down a list of perennials that you like. Note height, width, color etc. This will help you in the design process knowing how far to space and where to place them in the garden.
  • Once all the weeds are dead use a lawn mower or weed eater to cut down and remove dead growth. If you plan to till simply till the dead weeds under. Apply a liberal layer of organic matter or compost and till to a depth of 10" or so. Now you are ready to begin planting.
  • Before planting, arrange the perennials you have purchased in the garden following your sketch or plan.
  • NOTE: When setting the plants out in the bed make sure to space them properly. If a perennial grows 18 inches wide mark out a circle on the ground with an 18" diameter (Orange marker paint works great for marking.) Set the plant in the center of the circle. After placing all of the plants step back to take a look.
  • When you are satisfied that everything is in place, remove one plant at a time from its container and plant it. For planting, dig holes three times or more as wide as the container the plant came in. Mix in an good composted soil ammendment such as Claycutter at a 50/50 ratio with the soil removed from the hole. Add a little Bloom Start flower fertilzer to the mix.
  • Give your newly planted perennials a good soaking when you have finished planting.
  • Mulch the garden with pinestraw or wood mulch. We prefer wood mulch at about 1.5 inches deep or so.
  • Make sure you check every day for a period of two weeks to see if plants need water.

The base of your perennial garden is now complete. The first year, you might want to plant some annuals here and there in the garden for extra-added color.


Maintaining Your Perennial Garden

Summer Care of the Perennial Garden - Your garden will need attention throughout the growing season. Weed control and provision for adequate moisture are two important cultural necessities. When rainfall is less than 1 inch per week, provide additional moisture. The use of a mulch is an attractive and effective means of controlling weeds and maintaining constant soil moisture and temperature for the root systems of your plants. Mulches that you might consider include bark chips or shredded bark. To be effective, the mulch should be applied at least 2 inches deep around the plants. NOTE: Perennial Rock Gardens will require little or no attention to watering once established as most of these types of plants are extremely drought tolerant.

Pruning and Deadheading - You may deadhead (remove spent or faded flowers) all season long. Deadheading encourages the development of new flowers. In late fall or early winter, when your perennials have died back, you may remove dead foliage.

WARNING: Do not prune back lantanas in the fall, doing so will ensure death of the plant. Wait until spring when new growth begins to emerge to prune back lantanas. At this time prune them back to just above where new growth has emerged.

After cutting back dead foliage in late fall or early winter you may want to winterize your perennial garden by applying an inch or two of loose mulch over the perennials. Leaves work great if you have them.

Free Perennial Garden Designs

Planting Perennials

Planting Perennials In Containers



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