Your All-Out Guide to Growing Flowering Perennials for a Shade Garden

Perennials are considered every garden’s mainstay. They are hardy, come back year after year and grow in different shapes and heights and widths, which gives your backyard a sense of depth and visual interest.

Many people invest in a nice set of perennials for their gardens, but mess up at some point through the planting process, or while supposedly maintaining the plant, and that is usually caused by the lack of information regarding the proper methods and technics to adopt when dealing with this type of plants.

When planning on planting a perennial, it’s important to note which portion to take special care of, so the plant can grow strong and healthy. The roots are key when it comes to long-term care, and since the plant grows from its roots, it’s only fair that you take care of them.

Before we dive into the technicalities of how to plant and grow your perennials, we need to first cover some basics such as: what are perennials? And how should you expect them to behave in your backyard?

Flowering Perennials definition & characteristics

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Well, to begin with, perennials are a type of plants that have a span of life that exceeds two to three years. Once they are planted, they keep coming back year after year until they reach maturity, which varies from 3 to 5 years on average, depending on the plant.

In one season, they grow, bloom and go dormant. They should be trimmed in the fall so that they can start again in spring from the previous root system. Perennials more often than not reseed, and will expand over the years.

They generally bloom for a short time during the season (usually 2 to 6 weeks). If you want to get the best out of your perennials, plant them preferably in spring or fall, 8 to 6 weeks before the winter comes and the ground freezes.

Some the most famous examples of perennials are asters, tulips, echinacea, lilies and lavender.

Now when it comes to hardier perennials, they might last for over 20 years. These perennials have certain structures that help them make it through all these years.

Types of Flowering Perennials

Lastly, perennials can be divided into two main categories:

  • Deciduous perennials, such as the examples mentioned above, which grow part of the year then fall dormant the rest of the season. 
  • And Evergreen perennials, such as pine trees, which grow throughout the year.

So, about that guide, here is what you need to know if you’re planning to grow perennials in your backyard.

How to plant a flowering perennial?

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Planting your flowering perennials depends largely on which form you are planting them in. Is it in a container pot? Bare-root? Or just a seed? To each form its way of planting. For a “contained” perennial, which is the easiest to transplant but most expensive one, all you need to do is, using your hand or a trowel, dig a hole wider than the container but just as deep, gently squeeze the plant out of its container and into the hole, fill the empty space with soil and compost and soak it with water, then fertilize it after a week.

For the bare-root perennial, it’s a bit trickier. You need to make are your roots are well soaked in water before you plant them. Then proceed just like you’re planting a regular pot perennial. The seeds, however, are not for beginners, planting them takes more skill, knowledge, and a LOT of patience. It’s best to start them indoors in the winter, then transplant them outdoors once they’re big enough.

Before arranging your backyard, here’s what you must consider

Envisioning the outcome in your garden is equally as important as the labor that will follow. If you bought a varied set of perennials, different in height, width, shape, color and would like to know where it would be best to plant each one, then keep on reading.

Height is an important factor when it comes to deciding on the placement of your perennials. Naturally, you will want the highest plants to be at the very back, working it down in height as you move forward.

Note that the quality of your soil will directly affect how tall your plant will grow to be. In which case, you can move your plant around to better conditions. Width is just as important, and highly depends on the soil quality, as well as the geographical factor and age of the plant, it is also what determines the spacing.

Eventually, some flowering perennials will end up spreading more than others and maybe crowding out other plants.

All you will have to do is dig up the plant and move it to another location, or, if you’re feeling a little generous, share it with a friend.

How do I maintain my flowering perennials?

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During the first growing season, you need to keep your plant moisturized at all times until frost, but don’t overwater it, it could be as damaging as not watering it enough.

Covering around your plant with mulch is a great way to reduce weeds and slow down the process of water vaporization.

You also don’t want your plant to produce seeds as much as you want it to rebloom, so a great way to prevent seed production is to remove deadhead (spent blooms), this will divert the plant’s energy towards reblooming.

Finally, you don’t have to wait until your plant gets too big to support it. Inserting your plant supports early in the season will ensure a smooth growing process.

How do I treat my flowering perennials during the colder days of winter?

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Winter is the toughest time your flowering perennials will have to go through. But don’t worry, if you follow these steps, your plants will be just fine:

  • In some areas, it gets so cold that the ground freezes. If that is the case for you, then you need to add a layer of mulch to protect your perennials.
  • For some extra protection, many gardeners cover their plants with material such as micro-foam or several layers of white spun fabric

So, there you have it – your complete guide to growing perennials in your backyard. Now time to get to the action and start planting!

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