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Perennial planting, care and maintenance

Set perennial plants in their permanent places so their roots are completely covered with prepared soil, but avoid burying the stem or crown. Place container-grown plants the same depth that they were grown; place dormant plants at the depth at which they grew the previous season. To encourage side root growth, make a planting hole twice as wide as deep. With bare-root perennials, spread the roots outward as well as downward. For container-grown plants, loosen encircled roots and shake some of the potting soil into the planting hole. Remember to crumble away the top edges of a peat pot to prevent water loss through wicking. Do not let roots dry out, especially during transplanting.

Water the plants thoroughly to force out any air pockets and to settle the soil. Mark and label the plantings. Mulch the bed surface with pine straw or bark to keep soil from drying, crusting, and overheating in the summer, and to prevent many weed seeds from germinating.

Care and Maintenance

If you do not mulch your plants, use shallow cultivation in the spring and early summer to break and aerate compacted soils. This also aids in water penetration and makes it easier to incorporate fertilizer. Summer cultivation can damage shallow roots and is more difficult because the plants will be larger. Early in the season, stake tall plants with wire stands or bamboo canes. Use care to avoid root damage.

Apply fertilizers sparingly to plants early in their growing season, after new growth begins to show. If plants are growing well, no additional fertilizer may be needed; otherwise, a second light feeding will be helpful several weeks into the season.

In the fall, cut the old plant stalks to the ground after the leaves have fallen and mulch to protect crowns and roots from the harsh extremes of our mild weather followed by sudden cold spells. Remove any winter annual weeds that may have germinated before applying mulch. Fall is also a good time to divide many plants that may be encroaching on one another.

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Publication Number: IS0656
Publication Number: P2007
Publication Number: P3251

News

A plant with light green leaves and white flowers on tall stems grows in the shade under a tree.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Landscape Architecture July 17, 2018

With Mississippi's legendary summer heat, everyone wants some shade trees in the home landscape. But with shade comes a unique challenge: what plants thrive with less sunlight? (Photo by Gary Bachman)

A sprinkler with a black hose nestled in light brown pine straw lightly sprays pink flowers.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens July 16, 2018

As we continue to plow through this hot and humid summer, keeping our plants -- and ourselves -- hydrated is critical to maintaining the summer garden and landscape. As I write this column, it's 96 degrees with a heat index of 108. Whew!

A yellow butterfly sits atop a green bush with pink flowers.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens July 9, 2018

Like most gardeners, I love watching the various butterflies that visit my garden.

One I really like is the giant swallowtail, with its black body and vivid, yellow stripes. This creature loves my citrus, where she lays her eggs. The developing caterpillars have a unique defense mechanism; they look like bird poop on the citrus leaves.

Scaevola – Tiny purple, white and orange flowers can be seen among a mass of green leaves.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens July 2, 2018

I am a committed container gardener for both flowers and vegetables, but today I’m focusing on flowering plants. I firmly believe growing in containers is a fantastic way to enjoy a beautiful landscape and garden.

A man shows how to supplement supermarket floral bouquets with landscape materials.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens June 25, 2018

Let’s face it. Sometimes we need a quick, inexpensive bouquet of flowers to give to a friend or family member or to freshen up our own spaces.

Jim DelPrince, Extension horticulture specialist, shows you how to use landscape materials to supplement those pretty bouquets you see at the supermarket and get more bang for your buck. (Photo credit: Zac Ashmore/Cindy Callahan) 

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