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Gardening With Herbaceous Plants My thanks to Jim Harbage at South Dakota State for his presentation-January 2001 Herbaceous Gardens Steps in developing a garden Site analysis and modification Site plan Establishment Maintenance Overwintering Gardening with Herbaceous Plants

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Gardening WithHerbaceous Plants

My thanks to Jim Harbage at South Dakota State for his presentation-January 2001


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Herbaceous Gardens

  • Steps in developing a garden

    • Site analysis and modification

    • Site plan

    • Establishment

    • Maintenance

    • Overwintering


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants

  • Site analysis:

    • Light:

      • Hours of full sunlight

    • Soil:

      • Texture

      • pH

      • Fertility

    • Moisture:

      • Natural or applied

    • Temperature:

      • Heat reflection or exposure


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants

  • Light:

    • More than six hours of full sun = Full sun

    • Three to six hours of full sun = Partial shade

    • Zero to three hours of full sun = Shade


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants

  • Soil:

    • Texture - drainage

    • pH - acid or alkaline

    • Fertility - organic material


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants

  • Moisture:

    • Natural precipitation

    • Irrigation

    • Drainage

  • Note:

    • Many perennials planted in heavy wet soil (clay) will fail to survive.


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants

  • Site modification:

    • Soil amendments

    • Addition of pathways, walls, ponds, etc.

    • Changing slope or grade


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants

  • Site Plan:

    • Design

    • Choose materials


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants

  • Design:

    • Proportion

    • Balance

    • Pattern

    • Focus

    • Flow


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants

  • Selecting plants-Plant names:

    • Common names:

      • Descriptive (sometimes)

      • Confusing (usually)

    • Latin/Scientific names:

      • Specific

      • Descriptive

    • Oh no! Not the dreaded latin name.


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants

  • Choose materials for:

    • Match to site conditions and hardiness

    • Flower - size, shape, color

    • Bloom period - duration and time

    • Plant size - height and spread

    • Foliage - texture and color

    • Ease of maintenance

    • Cost


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This bed is designed to provide continuous bloom through the growing season.

Gardening with Herbaceous Plants


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A. Buddleia-Butterfly bush (2) growing season.

B. Coreopsis (12)

C. Scabiosa (10+10)

D. Verbena (3)

E. Lantana (2 in each pot)

F. Columbine (5+5)

G. Daylily (8+8)

H. Hardy Hibiscus (3)

I. Liatris (8)

J. Lobelia (9)

K. Honeysuckle (2)

L. Perennial Salvia (3+3)

The Garden Plan


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Once you have a site plan you are ready to go get your plants and start planting


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Obtaining plants:

    • Propagate your own

    • Trade with friends

    • Mail order

      • Bare root versus greenhouse grown

    • Local garden center


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Planting/Transplanting

    • In the Spring - most plants

      • Plant actively growing plants after the last frost

      • Plant dormant plants - 3 to 4 weeks earlier

    • In the Fall - Iris, Peony, Poppy…

      • Plant at least six weeks before ground freezes

      • Iris and poppy - transplant late July early August


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Planting:

    • Group plants

    • Plant at same depth as container

    • Plant crown just below soil line

      • Peony - rhizomes not more than two inches below surface

    • Water in

    • Fertilize: easy does it! (balanced fertilizer or 5-10-5 five pounds per 100 square feet)


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Care and Maintenance:

    • Watering

    • Pest control

    • Weed control

    • Pinching and deadheading


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Watering:

    • In general - 1 inch to 1.5 inches per week (more when flowering or in sandy soil)

    • Water deeply and infrequently

    • Apply in the morning

    • Avoid wetting the foliage

    • Small newly planted materials need frequent watering since roots are near the surface


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Pest control:

    • Prevention - healthy, stress free plants are more resistant

      • Good drainage

      • Space plants for air flow

    • Rarely use chemicals

    • May need to remove some plants

    • Wash off many insects with water


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Weed Control:

    • Start before planting - Fall is best

      • Non-specific, systemic herbicide (e.g. Roundup)

    • Can use after planting with care

      • Early Spring before desired plants break dormancy (emerge from the soil)

    • Cultivation after planting

      • After plants can be seen

      • Shallow to avoid root damage

    • Mulching


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Pinching and Deadheading

    • Maintain bushy plants

    • Avoid reseeding

    • Increase flowers

    • Increase bloom season


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Preparation for Winter

    • Leave dead stems/foliage

    • Mulch - two weeks after first frost

      • Pine straw

      • Other materials

    • Remove before active growth in the Spring


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • Winter Hardiness:

    • Consider hardiness zone ratings

    • Stress reduces hardiness:

      • Too much/too little water

      • Too little light

      • Competition

      • Low fertility

      • Late nitrogen application (a real no-no)


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Gardening with Herbaceous Plants growing season.

  • In Summary:

    • Select good plants

    • Plant correctly

    • Don’t over fertilize

    • Don’t over water

    • Good pest control


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