Whether a seasoned gardener or a novice just starting out in the garden, it is inevitable that you will bump into this question:
How do I pick the perfect perennial?
So what makes a perennial perfect anyway?
- It should have the right color, shape, bloom at the right time, and for a long time!
- It should "behave" in the garden - the way you want it to.
- It should be tough...because most of us don't have time for needy plants.
- Ideally it isn't preferred food of the neighborhood critters.
This means the answer is totally a personal preference thing. What feels perfect to you may not to me. You aren't going to find a definitive answer to this question in any book.
So how do you fill this tall order?
With this simple wisdom...
Know your Site!
The more you know about the place you want this plant to live and thrive, the closer you will get to the right choice. As nice as it is to stroll the nursery isles searching out the "perfect perennial"... Come on I know your guilty of this - the plant catches your eye, then calls to you with fluffy purple blossoms that entice you to just take it home with you even though you have NO idea where you will plant it... Yeah, we've all done it! But trust me, that is NOT the way to get this done. You need to start at home. Getting to know what conditions you have to work with.
If you have shade and pine trees, then lavender isn't your plant...no matter how much you like purple flowers and fragrance.
If you have hot sun and sandy soil, then astilble will never do...no matter how much you love the spiky flowers and ferny foliage.
Make a list of what you have:
- Hours of sun
- Type of soil
- Surrounding trees
- Local critters
Use that list to weed out what you can't grow successfully. Now with this narrowed down list, you are ready to apply criteria such as color, size, height, fussiness, bloom time, and susceptibility to critters.
Here are some fun ideas if you've got SHADE and don't want to see another hosta as long as you live...
- Astilbe - oh any astilbe will do!
- Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' - great variegation
- Chelone lyonni 'Hot Lips' - if you like pink - wow
- Dicentra eximia - delicate and elegant
- Ferns - oh so many to choose from
- Geranium - yes it is a perennial too
- Grasses - Hakonechloa and Chasmanthium are fun additions
- Heuchera - wonderful cultivars to choose from
- Iris - crested iris are wonderful
- Lobelia cardinalis - the purest red available
- Mertensia - and ephemeral, but worth it
- Omphalodes - a work horse and weed smotherer
- Polygonatum humil (tiny) or 'Variegatum' (tall)
- Tiarella cordifolia - when it takes off it is amazing
- Waldsteinia ternata - the consumate weed barrier!
Want to see these perennials and more? Check out our research link on the TGC website. Go to the very last link in the list for Van Berkum Nursery. They do a superb job listing plant images and details to help you pick the PERFECT PERENNIAL for you and your garden.
Visit us today: The Garden Continuum