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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Publications

News

A group of people stand behind a waist-high, elevated raised gardening bed full of green potato foliage.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens November 16, 2018

Not into conventional gardening? A salad table just may be for you.

With these elevated gardening beds, you can grow fresh vegetables and herbs throughout the year right at your fingertips. These tables work well in small spaces and eliminate the physical demands of an in-ground garden. (Photo courtesy of Carla Moore)

Blue-purple flowers on slender, upright stems stand above a mass of green foliage.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens November 12, 2018

This past weekend, I started planting cool-season color in my 25-gallon citrus containers.

I like underplanting in these containers for a couple of reasons. First, I can maintain a color pop through the year. And second, these annuals act as a colorful ground cover carpet that helps keep weeds at bay. I really do hate weeding, and even plants grown in containers need help with weed control.

Fingers steady an upside-down flower pot as a drill bit pierces the bottom to make drainage holes.
Filed Under: Cut Flowers and Houseplants, Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens, Youth Gardening November 6, 2018

You’ve got a lovely container, and you want to put a plant in it. But if that container doesn’t have drainage holes, you’ll end up with a dead plant. (Photo by Jonathan Parrish/Cindy Callahan)

A cluster of ruffled pink flowers with vivid red centers is pictured on green stems.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens November 5, 2018

I love the annual color we can grow all winter in most of our Mississippi gardens and landscapes, so I'm going to spend a few weeks concentrating on cool-season color. Dianthus is my first choice for fall color.

A wooden and wire basket full of yellow and orange fruit sits indoors with a Christmas tree in the background.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens October 29, 2018

The fall and winter seasons mean it’s time for colorful pansy, viola and dianthus. But the changing seasons also mean that home gardeners who grow citrus will soon harvest delicious fruit -- satsuma, kumquat, Meyer lemon, oh my!

Watch

Gulf Muhly Grass
Southern Gardening

Gulf Muhly Grass

Sunday, November 18, 2018 - 7:00am
Fall Salvia
Southern Gardening

Fall Salvia

Sunday, November 11, 2018 - 7:00am
Pansy and Viola
Southern Gardening

Pansy and Viola

Sunday, October 28, 2018 - 2:30am
Late Season Color
Southern Gardening

Late Season Color

Sunday, October 21, 2018 - 2:30am
Crape Myrtle Bark
Southern Gardening

Crape Myrtle Bark

Sunday, October 14, 2018 - 2:15am

Listen

Friday, November 16, 2018 - 2:45am
Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 2:45am
Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 2:45am
Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 2:45am
Monday, November 12, 2018 - 9:45am

Contact Your County Office

Your Extension Experts

Extension/Research Professor
Ornamental Horticulture Host of Southern Gardening