Yards and common areas beg for a pop of color as the seasons change. Let perennials do the honors and they’ll keep coming back for encores! Perennial plants are those that endure year to year from the same root part. There are both herbaceous perennials, which die back to the root, and evergreen perennials that remain in leaf throughout the year.
Most perennials are propagated by division, seed or cuttings. Division is the primary technique, as it not only creates new plants, but is also important in maintaining the continued vigor of the plant. Perennials have the permanence of traditional shrub plantings, but provide attractive annual flowers. Cut flowers are also a favored use of perennials in the home.
Like all plants, perennials benefit from proper soil preparation. In the clay soils of North Texas; amending beds prior to planting is essential. Tilling a mixture of compost and expanded shale is the preferred amendment technique. Importantly, expanded shale needs to me amended into the soil at a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Top dressing the beds after planting with a mulch completes the planting process.
Insure the beds you plant perennials in drain well, as saturated soil conditions are the major culprit in perennial loss. A weekly deep watering of perennials is the best course of action. This encourages deeper root growth. As mentioned previously, mulching the beds will help retain moisture in the soil and reduces water evaporation from the soil surface.One of the great things about perennials is that there seems to be several for all the different conditions one finds in their garden. Salvia ‘May Night’ and Texas Skullcap have low water requirements once established. Coral Bells, Columbine and Turks Cap will perform well in shade, while long-time favorites Mexican Bush Sage, Salvia Greggi and Blackeyed Susan thrive in direct sun.
Gardeners will find great rewards with the planting of perennials as they are attractive, adaptive and typically long-lived. Begin with a planting of the tried and true varieties, prepare the soil well, perform prudent watering techniques, and take joy in the return each Spring of your perennial plantings.
John Vanderpearl is a principal and landscape consultant with Precision Landscape Management, LP.