Giv­ing peren­ni­als the best start

Gardeners' World - - Perennials -

Plant con­tainer-grown peren­ni­als at any time of year, but avoid plant­ing dur­ing frosty weather, in spells of pro­longed drought (the plants will fry un­less you are a slave to the wa­ter­ing can) or in win­ter in heavy clay soil (the plants will drown).

Plant bare-root peren­ni­als (and that in­cludes your own di­vi­sions) in the au­tumn or spring months.

En­rich the earth with a gen­er­ous sup­ply of or­ganic mat­ter (well-rot­ted com­post or ma­nure) be­fore you plant, give the ground a good dust­ing of blood, fish and bone­meal for good mea­sure, and re­move all peren­nial weed roots.

Dig a hole just large enough for each plant’s roots and firm the earth back, mak­ing sure that the crown of the plant (where roots meet shoots) is level with the sur­face of the soil. Do not plant too deeply.

Wa­ter the plants well, then spread a 5cm mulch of chipped bark, com­post or ma­nure on the sur­face of the soil, tak­ing care not to swamp the plants them­selves. This will hold in mois­ture and keep down an­nual weeds.

Firm back the earth around the plants af­ter frost and do not al­low them to go short of wa­ter in their first sum­mer.

Stake taller va­ri­eties with twiggy pea sticks or wire plant sup­ports be­fore they need it. There is noth­ing worse than a trussed up peren­nial that has been staked too late in the sea­son.

Cut back herba­ceous peren­ni­als right to ground level in late au­tumn. Do not leave an inch or two of stalk be­hind, which will cut your fin­gers when you come to work with them the fol­low­ing spring. Com­post the faded stalks.

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