You are here

Site Selection and soil preparation for perennials

Consider the site before selecting your plants. Although many perennials, such as ferns, tolerate heavy shade, most perennial plants require abundant sunshine. Air circulation is important for avoiding diseases; stagnant, warm, and humid air creates ideal conditions for diseases. Perennial plants also require properly prepared soil, and a few have specific drainage and fertility requirements.

Soil preparation for perennials is similar to soil preparation for annuals. However, you should devote some special attention to perennial bed preparation, because plants may occupy the site for several years with little opportunity to correct any problems. When possible, add sand and organic matter such as bark, peat, or compost to soils well ahead of planting time.

A layer of organic matter 3 or 4 inches deep, worked into the soil a shovel's depth, is usually adequate. Since different types of organic matter work and decompose at different rates in the soil, it is best to use a little of two or three kinds of organic matter than a lot of just one.

Soil testing provides specific recommendations for fertilizer and lime needs. Since lime lasts for several years depending on the type used, never add lime without a soil test. Many fertilizers, such as phosphorus, are best applied and mixed into soils before planting. Perennials need a balance of several nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash; most garden supply stores carry a wide variety of fertilizer mixes. Keep in mind that phosphorus, including that found in bone meal, lasts for several years and need not be applied regularly.

Printer Friendly and PDF

Publications

News

Saucer magnolias bloom before the leaves emerge, making their huge flowers the main attraction. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
Filed Under: Flower Gardens February 19, 2018

I came to a conclusion after a series of events reminded me that spring is really close.

Small red berries and green leaves line a distylium branch.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens February 12, 2018

Distylium Vintage Jade is an exciting new plant that brings pizazz to the traditional role of foundation planting.

A arrangement of pink, orange and yellow zinnias sit on a stool against a black background.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens February 1, 2018

Individuals interested in floral design can attend a live demonstration to learn about new arrangement techniques using Mississippi products March 8.
Jim DelPrince, horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, will show attendees how to use materials from their landscapes to create arrangements in Mississippi-made pottery.

White flower pots containing green lemongrass are lined up on the ground.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens January 29, 2018

Last week, I focused on the 2018 Mississippi Medallion Winner fancy leaf kale. This week, let’s look at a second 2018 winner: lemongrass.

Grayish-purple kale plants are displayed, each with light purple centers.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens January 22, 2018

Garden catalogs start piling up by the front door at this time of year, and our two recent cold spells gave me time to look at them. I’ve had the best time flipping through these catalogs and dreaming about all the new plants I’m going to grow this year.

Watch

Wisteria
Southern Gardening

Wisteria

Sunday, February 18, 2018 - 7:00am
Indoor Plants
Southern Gardening

Indoor Plants

Sunday, February 11, 2018 - 7:00am
Gary the Godfather
Southern Gardening

Gary the Godfather

Sunday, February 4, 2018 - 7:00am
Winter Wonders
Southern Gardening

Winter Wonders

Sunday, January 28, 2018 - 7:00am
Crape Murder
Southern Gardening

Crape Murder

Sunday, January 21, 2018 - 7:15am

Listen

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 2:30am
Monday, February 19, 2018 - 2:30am
Friday, February 16, 2018 - 2:00am
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 2:00am
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 2:00am

Contact Your County Office

Your Extension Experts

Extension/Research Professor
Ornamental Horticulture Host of Southern Gardening