How to grow Perennials

With their astonishing range of sizes and colours, perennials make a valuable contribution to modern and traditional gardens a-like. Easy to grow and inexpensive to buy, they bloom year after year.

At its peak, a perennial border is a truly spectacular sight. It might have a dazzling array of yellow yarrow, red-hot poker, tall white anemone hybrids and white and purple acanthus with its large glossy leaves. Or it could contain a serene, gentle blend of starry Astrantia major, creamy goat’s beard (Aruncus) and lush-leaved hostas.

Perennials may be herbaceous -plants that die back in autumn, sending up new growth in spring or evergreen, with all-year foliage. The range of size, shape and colour is so large that, whatever the type or location of your garden, there will be many suitable plants.

Perennials can be grown on their own in a border, or in a mixed border. The flowering period of each plant may be brief, but a floral display can be planned so that as one species is in full bloom, another is in bud and yet others are preparing to flower later.

Many perennials are grown for their foliage, such as sculptural hostas, grey-leaved lamb’s tongue, the fern, and the narrow leaves of spiderwort (Trahdescantia).

Perennials can be bought as seed, as seedlings needing a year or more in the garden before they flower, or as mature plants.

Harden off seedlings before planting out in their permanent positions in autumn or spring.

At the beginning of the growing season, stake those perennials with tall or floppy stems. Mulch annually in spring, and cut back stems of herbaceous types to just above ground level after flowering. Most perennials should be lifted and divided every four or five years to prevent overcrowding.

In mid summer this herbaceous border is an exuberant display of colour and texture. The pink plumes of astilbe are backed by the coarse foliage of Centaurea macrocephala, with its globular yellow flowers, and contrasted with Campanula lactiflora, bearing delicate lavender-blue bell-shaped flowers.

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