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Basics of Perennial Gardening. Wyandotte County Kansas State Research & Extension. Perennials. Perennial Are plants that grow for more than one growing season The foliage dies during the winter, although the roots remain alive to produce a new plant that flowers the next year. Perennials.

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basics of perennial gardening

Basics of Perennial Gardening

Wyandotte County

Kansas State Research & Extension



  • Are plants that grow for more than one growing season
  • The foliage dies during the winter, although the roots remain alive to produce a new plant that flowers the next year
  • Biennials require 2 growing seasons to complete their life cycle – Year 1 they are vegetative; Year 2 they produce flowers, set seed & die.
perennial garden preparation
Perennial Garden Preparation

Site Selection

  • Well drained soil
  • Sun exposure

- full sun (six hours of sun)

- part sun (four to six hours sun)

- shade (no direct sunlight)

- part shade (less than four hours of sun)

  • Soil texture – Wyandotte County Clay?
  • Special features - accents (fountains, patio, bench etc)
perennial garden preparation1
Perennial Garden Preparation

Prepare the soil

  • Soil test
  • Start with a clean bed – remove weeds before planting
  • Organic matter – incorporate to at least six to eight inches
  • Edging beds – steel, rubber, stone, or natural materials
when and what to plant
When and What to Plant
  • Select the right plants for the right place

- plant hardiness – Zones 5 & 6

- sun exposure - water requirements - plant height/width

- bloom period and color

  • Plant as early as possible
  • Use larger plants - gallon size or larger will give faster results
  • Space appropriately
  • Dig a hole the same depth as container
  • Remove plants from the container
  • Butterfly or separate the root ball
  • Place the plant in the hole and lightly pack the soil around the plant with the same soil that was removed from the hole
  • Water gently and slowly
mail order perennials
Mail Order Perennials
  • Remove the plant from its package, and carefully remove all loose packing material (peat moss and sawdust are commonly used). 
  • Soak the roots in a bucket of water for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  • Examine the root system, and trim away any rotted, moldy, broken or elongated roots with a sharp knife of your pruning shears. 
  • Water thoroughly and frequently during establishment (3-4 weeks)
  • Water deeply, weekly to maintain adequate moisture (1”/wk)
  • Incorporate a slow release fertilizer at the time of planting
  • Top dress with slow release at planting
  • Liquid feed – more labor intensive; must do every two weeks
  • Fertilize established perennials in the spring and fall (after dormant)
weed control preemergent
Weed Control - Preemergent
  • Treflan - sold as Preen, Miracle Grow Weed Preventer and Monteray Vegetable and Ornamental Weeder
  • Dacthal - sold as Gordon’s Garden Weed Preventer Granuals
  • Re-apply every 3 months
  • Bed must be weed free before application (only prevents weeds)
  • Organic (wood chips,

pine needles, etc.) mulches are preferred – no fabric is placed underneath the mulch

  • Bio-degrade in one year
  • Can be tilled in for organic matter
  • Benefits:

- Prevents soil temperature fluctuation

- Conserves moisture

- Weed inhibitor

- Erosion control

perennial maintenance
Perennial Maintenance
  • Many perennials spend their first season establishing a strong root system and then begin maximum flower production in their second and third years.
  • Deadheading – removing faded flowers to maintain plant vigor
  • Each fall, cut back spent plants, and mulch to prevent alternate freezing and thawing over winter months
  • Divide and replant many species on a 3-4 year cycle (iris, hosta, etc.)
pest control
Pest Control
  • Monitor plants for insects and diseases
  • Treat as appropriate for the pest
  • Best prevention is a healthy plant
perennials for kansas
Perennials for Kansas
  • Creeping or Moss Phlox (phlox subulata)
  • Garden or Chinese Peony (paeonia lactiflora)
  • Bearded or German Iris (Iris germanica)
  • Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea)
  • Tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata)
  • Blanket Flower (Gaillardia grandiflora)
  • Yarrow (Achillea spp)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis spp)
  • Shasta Daisy (Chrysanthemum maximum)
  • Summer or Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Coral Bells, Purple Columbine, Shasta Daisy, Viburnum