How to make sure your border he­roes sur­vive win­ter

Amateur Gardening - - This Week In Gardening -

AS the main­stay of most sum­mer gar­dens, a lot hangs on the health of your herba­ceous peren­ni­als.

Ours have been Pro­tect roots with a fan­tas­tic this layer of mulch year, with spe­cial men­tion go­ing to the cat­mint, pen­ste­mons, echi­naceas, hardy gera­ni­ums and Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis.

As early au­tumn con­tin­ues its course, this week is an ideal time to take stock of your peren­ni­als, tidy them up, plant new ones and di­vide those that have out­grown their space.

“In­crease plant num­bers by sim­ple di­vi­sion”

Hardy gera­ni­ums fea­ture largely in our gar­den be­cause they love its freedrain­ing chalky soil.

They need reg­u­lar cut­ting back through­out the grow­ing sea­son to keep them in shape and en­cour­age pro­longed flow­er­ing. Now, one of the largest ones re­quires di­vid­ing to keep it healthy.

If left alone, the heart of peren­ni­als of­ten be­come woody or weak, and flow­er­ing per­for­mance falls off af­ter a few years. Split­ting plants in­creases your col­lec­tion for free and keeps plants strong. Al­ways dis­card any ma­te­rial that looks weak or dis­eased, and make sure that all the di­vi­sions you keep have strong sec­tions of root at­tached. If you can’t re-plant the di­vi­sions im­me­di­ately, wrap them in damp plas­tic or paper and store them some­where cool for up to 48 hours. Au­tumn is also the best time for check­ing the health of your plants, cut­ting back old fo­liage where ap­pro­pri­ate and dead­head­ing. Af­ter do­ing so, mulch the plants well with well-rot­ted com­post or ma­nure. This acts as a slow-re­lease feed and pro­vides an in­su­lat­ing blan­ket to co­coon the roots dur­ing the win­ter.

Wrap roots in damp paper or plas­tic if you can’t re-plant im­me­di­ately Di­vid­ing peren­ni­als will give you a greater num­ber of small, healthy plants

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