Gardening Q&A: Perennial Care

There’s nothing more beautiful than a flower bed filled with bright perennials. From black-eyed susans to coneflowers, daylilies and sedum, there are a variety of perennials that provide color all summer long and into the perennials

In this month’s Gardening Q&A, the experts at Greenstreet Gardens offer helpful advice on the types of perennials that work well in our area, along with tips on how to care for them.

Happy gardening and stay cool!

Q. What are some of the perennials that thrive in this area’s climate and soil?

  • A. We have an amazing number of perennials that thrive in our Zone 7 climate and variety of soils. For a sunny location (5 or more hours a day of sun) our favorites are: Agastache, asters, coneflower, coreopsis, crocosmia, nepeta (catmint) saliva, sage, and ornamental grasses. For shady locations, we like hosta, coral bells, epimedium, ferns, astilbe, and Lady’s Mantle.

Q.  Should perennials be cut back after they have finished blooming?

  • A.  It isn’t necessary to cut back perennials, but many gardeners dead-head, or remove spent flower heads, after flowering to keep the plant looking tidy and to encourage more blooms. A great example of a plant that likes to be cut back is salvia. Varieties like May Night and Caradonna put on a great show into June, but come July the flower stalks are brown. Cut the spent stalks back to green leaves, and the plant will generate a second flush of flowers. As the growing season nears an end, many gardeners leave the flower heads on. The birds will enjoy the seeds, and the dried stalks provide interesting winter texture in the otherwise bare garden. Cut back the dried portions in spring once you see new green growth emerging.

Q.  How often should perennials be fertilized?

  • A. Perennials should be fertilized in the spring and then again mid-summer. We like to top dress our flower beds with a rich compost in the spring, and then again in the fall.

Q.  When should perennials be split?

  • A.  That depends on the perennial. Not all like to be split, but those that do, can be split in early spring and then again in the fall. Hostas, iris, and daylilies are examples of plants that thrive when separated.

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About Cynthia Giorgio

I'm Cynthia Giorgio, co-founding editor of South River Source. I love to write about the people, places, news and events in South County. Send story ideas to or call me at 301-906-4767.

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