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Tips for Starting Your Perennials in Your Garden


Perennials are plants that live for more than two years, and they are an essential part of any garden. They come back year after year, providing beauty and color to your outdoor space. However, getting perennials started in your garden can be a bit tricky. Here are some tips to help you get your perennials off to a healthy start in your garden.

Choose the Right Location

The first step in getting your perennials started is to choose the right location for them. Different perennials have different light and soil requirements, so it's essential to research each plant's needs before deciding where to plant them. Some perennials thrive in full sun, while others prefer partial or full shade. Likewise, some perennials do best in well-drained soil, while others prefer soil that stays consistently moist.

Before planting your perennials, take the time to observe your garden throughout the day to determine which areas receive the most sunlight and which areas stay shaded. Additionally, consider the quality of your soil and whether it needs any amendments to meet the needs of your chosen perennials. By selecting the right location for each plant, you'll ensure that they have the best chance of thriving in your garden.

Prepare the Soil

Once you've chosen the right location for your perennials, it's time to prepare the soil. Proper soil preparation is essential for getting your perennials off to a healthy start. Start by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting area. Then, use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. This will help improve soil aeration and drainage, creating an optimal environment for your perennials' roots to grow.

Next, consider adding organic matter to the soil to improve its fertility and structure. Compost, aged manure, or peat moss are all excellent options for adding organic matter to your soil. Mix the organic matter into the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches, ensuring that it is evenly distributed throughout the planting area. This will provide essential nutrients to your perennials and help them establish strong root systems.

Planting Your Perennials

When planting your perennials, it's essential to follow the specific planting guidelines for each type of plant. In general, you'll want to dig a hole that is slightly larger than the plant's root ball and place the plant in the hole at the same depth it was growing in its nursery container. Gently backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the plant to eliminate any air pockets. Water the newly planted perennials thoroughly to ensure that the soil settles around the roots.

When planting multiple perennials, be sure to space them according to the recommendations for each type of plant. Proper spacing will allow your perennials to grow and spread without competing with each other for resources. Additionally, consider planting taller perennials towards the back of a border or garden bed and shorter perennials towards the front to create a visually appealing arrangement.

Mulch and Water

After planting your perennials, it's crucial to apply a layer of mulch around them to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. Organic mulches, such as wood chips, straw, or shredded bark, are excellent choices for perennial beds. Apply 2-4 inches of mulch around your perennials, being careful to keep the mulch away from the base of the plants to prevent rot.

Watering is another critical aspect of getting your perennials started in your garden. Newly planted perennials will need regular watering to help them establish strong root systems. Water your perennials deeply immediately after planting, and continue to water them regularly, especially during hot, dry weather. Be sure to water the soil around the plants rather than the plants themselves to avoid promoting fungal diseases.

Provide Care and Maintenance

Once your perennials are established in your garden, it's essential to provide them with the care and maintenance they need to thrive. This includes regular watering, especially during dry spells, as well as fertilizing your perennials as needed. Some perennials benefit from a slow-release granular fertilizer applied in early spring, while others may do well with a liquid fertilizer applied throughout the growing season.

In addition to watering and fertilizing, it's essential to keep an eye on your perennials for any signs of pests or diseases. Inspect your plants regularly and treat any issues promptly to prevent them from spreading. Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, can also help encourage your perennials to produce more blooms and prolong their flowering period.

Divide and Share

As your perennials mature, they may become overcrowded and start to produce fewer flowers. This is a sign that it's time to divide your perennials. Dividing perennials involves digging up the plant, dividing the root ball into smaller sections, and then replanting the divisions in new locations or sharing them with friends and neighbors.

Dividing perennials not only helps rejuvenate the plants and promote better flowering, but it also allows you to expand your garden and share the beauty of your perennials with others. Some perennials, such as hostas and daylilies, benefit from being divided every few years to maintain their health and vigor.


Starting your perennials in your garden is an essential step in creating a beautiful and sustainable outdoor space. By choosing the right location, preparing the soil, planting your perennials properly, and providing them with the care and maintenance they need, you can ensure that your perennials will thrive and provide years of beauty in your garden. With a little effort and attention, you can enjoy the rewards of perennial gardening for many seasons to come.

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