3 simple tips for growing productive perennials

Once established, perennials are almost as low maintenance as evergreens and at least as stunning as colourful annuals. If you're a gardener, give yourself the gift that keeps on giving year after year.

3 simple tips for growing productive perennials

Deadhead spent blooms

These plants, which often feature colourful blooms, thrive during the warmer months but die back in winter. They don't really die, though; perennials hibernate in winter. They reappear in spring larger and stronger than before. If you treat perennials right, you'll enjoy their spring renaissance and showy blooms for years to come.

  • Perennials are relatively low maintenance, but the more TLC you give them, the more blooms they'll produce.
  • Perennials cycle through bloom seasons. Flowers bloom and remain pretty and healthy for a period of time ranging from days to months depending on the plant.
  • Eventually, flowers dry out and shrivel up. If you snip off spent blooms, you'll be rewarded with fresh blooms more quickly than if you leave the blooms to wither on the stem.

Strategically plant seed pouches

In addition to facilitating maximum blooms, there's another benefit to deadheading your perennials.

  • Many of the flowers contain seeds or seed pouches. Just like you plant seeds you purchase in a garden centre, you can plant the seeds you snip from your plants.
  • You can start them in pots and nurture them, or you can simply toss them into your garden.
  • When you water your plants, you'll also be watering the seeds. They'll naturally sprout and eventually become mature plants.
  • If you're cultivating seeds in your garden, make sure to explain what you're doing to anyone who might mistake the seedlings for weeds and pull them up.

Nip them in the bud

As the days grow shorter, trees drop their leaves and the temperatures fall, it's time to prune most of your perennials.

  • It's best to prune after perennials' active growing season, as they are entering their winter dormancy phase. Make sure to prune before or after the most frigid winter temperatures.
  • Pruning is a jolt to a plant's system, so you never want to prune in the heat of the summer or the dead of winter.
  • When pruning your perennials, moderation is a good rule of thumb. You want to cut off a considerable volume of the plant, without going overboard.
  • Some perennials, including astilbe, coral bells and lavender, shouldn't be pruned in fall or winter. When in doubt, ask your local garden centre for instructions.

Perennials make a wonderful addition to any garden. Anyone with a green thumb will delight in watching these plants come back year after year, both bigger and better.

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