Hello again!

Per·en·ni·al /pəˈrenēəl/ (of a plant) living for several years. ‘tarragon is perennial’ or this definition I like - ‘continuing without interruption : CONSTANT, PERPETUAL’

It can be a bit confusing, I know, to tell the difference between annuals and perennials. It can be a bit vague, I admit. There are hardy annuals such as pansies, violas, snapdragons, dianthus and other annuals that can survive the winter. There are tender perennials such as purple fountain grass, lantana and gazania; these are all great perennial plants. My own definition of an annual is a plant that grows one season, from spring until a freeze. Many times it blooms most all summer long. We plant annual bedding plants in the spring, and remove them in the fall. Annuals are great because a gardener has the opportunity to change plant species yearly, giving a fresh look every year.

Perennials on the other hand, come back every year. They tend to have a specific blooming period during the growing season, and some can be repeat bloomers. Once a killing freeze comes in the fall, the plant goes dormant, the foliage is done and new foliage arrives the next spring. (Unless you have helleborus which retains its foliage during the winter.) Now you see why there can be some confusion!

Some of my favorite perennial plants are natives. Being native to our area, Asclepias tuberosa - butterfly milkweed, requires very little care once planted and established. Liatris or gayfeather, monarda or bee-balm, echinacea or coneflower and Missouri primrose are also natives that are a few of my favorites. Today’s plant breeders have taken note, and now we have other plant offerings that have connections to our natives, giving us the best of both worlds. They have the assurance of performance like native plants with more options in growth habit and flower color.

A few tips on planting perennials:

I like to create a border, or an area which can be devoted to perennials. One of our perennial suppliers has made it easy to design a perennial border. Their plant labels include recommendations for sun or shade, placement (front, middle or rear of the garden) and blooming season. You can also pick up one of our perennial plant handouts with detailed information on many of our perennials.

I also fertilize perennials at planting time and every spring. Here are a few of my go-to perennial fertilizers:

ferti-lome’s Premium Bedding Plant Food is a professional bedding plant food with micronutrients and slow release, water insoluble nitrogen to aid in healthy plant growth. Advanced coating technology with polymer- and sulfur-coated urea provides gradual, consistent nutrients for up to 30 days, and is perfect for perennials.

With early spring flowering bulbs starting to finish their show, now is the time to not only dead-head the spent blooms and developing seed pods, but to also feed the bulbs as they continue to grow this spring. Hi-Yield Dutch Bulb Food is specially formulated to provide the plant the nutrients needed to bloom in the years to follow.

ferti-lome Gardener’s Special Plant Food can be used on bedding plants, flowers, bulbs, roses, evergreens, ornamental plants, and shrubs and will build nutrients needed to perform in the years to follow.

Stop by the garden center and see what’s new in our perennial department. You won’t be disappointed! See you soon!

Your friend in the garden,

Marty Johnson
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center