If you have perennials in your garden, you’ve more than likely realized that they are not low mintenance plants if you want bigger and better blooms. If you prepared your perennials properly in the spring, many of your plants are probably in their peak bloom. The hard work is done and you can enjoy the flowers and fragrances, and the butterflies while keeping up with the summer care for your perennials.
Below, you will find some easy tips for summer care of your perennials:
- Weeding – The weeds are racing to set seed in order to renew themselves for next year. Weeding should be a once-a-week routine. If you don’t have much time to spare, at least do walk through and pull the weeds that are about to set seed. You’ll be so happy you did, come next year!
- Mulching – Renew your mulch so you maintain moisture in the soil, discourage weed growth and to help keep the soil cool. Remember, as the mulch decomposes, it enriches the soil.
- Watering – Although you use mulch, you need to keep an eye on the soil moisture. A rule of thumb is to wiggle a finger an inch or two into the soil. If it feels dry, then give the bed a long, deep soaking.
- Staking – Add another layer of wire or twine as your plants grow. Check and be sure your stakes are pushed well into the ground so it doesn’t fall over when it’s top-heavy with blooms.
- Pinching – You can encourage chrysanthemums to branch by pinching out the tips of the stems. They will produce more flowers and be bushier. Removing side buds on plants like foxglove and delphinium, will give you a bigger single flower. However, disbudding (removing the main flower bud), on these same plants will reward you with many smaller side flowers.
- Deadheading – Deadheading keeps invasive perennials from self-sowing and keeps your garden looking neat. Removing faded blooms will also help your plants remain vigorous and could also mean a bonus of prolonging the blooming season or cause another flush of blooms in late summer.
- Pruning – Cutting your perennial back, stimulates new growth and keeps straggly and weak plant growth down. Your mat-formming plants such as rock cress, candytuff, moss pink, creeping phlox and garden pinks, will be happy to have a crewcut after they have finished blooming. Using a pair of shears, prune them back hard to about one half of their height. Taller plant which bloom in one flush (e.g., painted daisies), like it when you give them a trimming. Cut to about one half of their original height after they have finished flowering. Removing the flower spikes from delphiniums promotes blooming of side flowers.
Remember, whatever effort you put in now, will make your fall and winter preparations much easier and your perennial beds that much prettier next year.