Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Perennial and Bulb Tips for February

As February draws to a close, you want to make sure you start focusing on your perennials and bulbs. One thing you may want to think about is what new perennials you might want to plant in your yard. It's important to understand the growing habits and shapes of perennials before you plant to ensure they occupy the space properly and give the effect you want to achieve.

Perennials typically fall into the following "shape" categories:

  • Mats: Perennials such as lamium, bugleweed and plumbago form low carpets suitable for ground covers or the front of the border.
  • Mounds: Nicely rounded perennials such as coreopsis and hostas provide a soft look.
  • Vase Shapes: When in bloom, plants such as garden phlox and Shasta daisies grow in an inverted triangular shape.
  • Flower Sprays with Low Foliage: Perennials such as yarrow, sea thrift and coral bells sprout taller flowers, but low foliage. Height can be reduced when the old flower stems are removed.
  • Spikes: Plants such as lupines, salvias, and delphiniums have slim, vertical flowering stems that contrast nicely with the horizontal growers.

Once you've selected your new perennial species, then you may want to focus on the maintenance and planting of some of your perennials and bulbs:

  • Check your stored tender bulbs every two weeks. Discard any that may have rotted over the winter. If they appear withered, then mist lightly with water.
  • Cut back liriope and ground covers
  • Lift and divide perennials carefully
  • Fertilize spring bulbs
  • Order perennial plants and bulbs now for cut flowers this summer. Good choices are phlox, daisy, dahlia, cosmos, aster, gladiolus and lilly.
  • Plant spring flowering perennials now. Alstromeria, bleeding heart, coral bells, campanula, euryops, and dianthus.
The days are getting longer, allowing for more time outside. Evaluate your landscape and start making plans to ensure your yard looks its best ever this spring and summer.

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