How should I care for perennials?

Perennials are long-lived plants and emerge every year from their roots. They will thus be providing you with pleasure for years to come. Another big advantage to perennials is that they require little care. Even so, satisfying their basic requirements will allow them to grow and flower to perfection.

CARING FOR PERENNIALS

Most perennials will need to be tidied up in the spring (starting in March). This involves trimming away all their dead stems and removing any dead leaves. While doing this, also make sure not to damage their emerging shoots. Hedging shears are a good tool to use. Evergreen perennials that still look attractive can just be left undisturbed. Trim any unattractive foliage of perennials back to just above the ground; their new healthy foliage will appear again all on its own. If a perennial has not emerged by May, it has probably not survived the winter and will have to be replaced. If you want to enjoy lots of flowers for as long as possible, pick or snip off faded flowers often. This will encourage perennials to produce more flowers.

PERENNIALS DURING THE WINTER

You can leave most perennials in pots outside during the winter, as long as the flower pot will not be damaged by cold. The best way to protect border perennials during the winter is to wait until spring to tidy up the border. This is because their dead foliage will protect the soil from frost. During the winter or early spring, spread a layer of compost between the perennials; this is called ‘mulching’. Not only does this improve the soil structure but it will also retain moisture. You could also add some mixed organic fertilisers to nourish your perennials.

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