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Caring For Your Perennials
Caring For Your Perennials Perennials are a great way to add seasonal color to your landscape. Unlike annuals,
they come back year after year so with a little care you get a lot of bang for your
buck. At scott flanagan landscape, we use natives and plants with a proven track
record for success in our area.
(Check out http://www.scottflanaganlandscape.com/Perennials.html for a list of our favorites!)
Establishment
Although we specifically select the plants and cultivars that are adapted to our
climate, all plants need help for a period right after planting. Plantings are
best done in the spring or fall when temperatures are cooler and precipitation
is higher. Planting in summer is possible but it is much more stressful on the
plant and it is possible it will go into dormancy. If this happens, continue
watering as needed and it is likely the perennial will bounce back.

Consistent water is especially important during the first 4-6 weeks after perennials
are planted, even drought tolerant perennials. Signs that the plant is not getting
enough water are: drooping plants, wrinkled leaves and browning of leaf margins.
These symptoms can be caused by a wide range of issues (including too much water)
so to be sure it is a water issue, dig down a couple inches and make sure it is dry
before adding more water.

Once the plant begins putting out new healthy growth, you know are on the right track
and the plant is becoming established. Mulch is highly recommended to keep moisture
levels consistent but do not apply fertilizer to newly planted perennials. In fact,
many established perennials do not need fertilizer; too much can cause flopping. The
sure fire way to tell is by doing a soil test. We do recommend annual application of
compost which improves soil structure and is a source of nutrients that is slowly
broken down.

Here is a calendar of tasks to help keep your perennials looking top notch:



Spring

Cut back any perennials left standing for winter interest, such as ornamental grasses
Press the crowns of any plants that have popped out of the ground back in
(known as "frost heaving")
Divide and thin plants as needed
Apply mulch (or in the fall)
Apply compost
Fertilize if needed, especially "heavy feeders" such as lilies, mums, delphinum, astilbe
Water if needed


Summer

Water and weed as needed
Dead head (removing of spent blooms)
Cut back perennials that are done blooming to keep tidy
(sometimes you will get a second bloom!)


Fall

Divide and thin plants as needed
Apply mulch if needed
Water as needed
As plants go dormant in late fall, cut them down to within a few inches of the ground
Leave perennials with ornamental value standing (such as ornamental grasses) or seed
heads for birds (such as coneflower) if desired
Further winterizing details can be found here:
https://extension.illinois.edu/perennials/fall.cfm

With a little care, your perennials will reward you with years of blooms. Careful
planning with a variety of perennials with different bloom times will ensure you
always have something flowering throughout the growing season. We love to design
dynamic landscapes that change throughout the season so please give us a call to
see what we can create for you!

Nicole Gear
Horticulturalist
scott flanagan landscape


Scott Flanagan Landscape    708.460.5884    sfl@scottflanaganlandscape.com

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