The Q&A Archives: Proper Care

Question: I just moved into my house and it has alot of perennials. I'm wondering how to properly care for them. When do I need to cut them back, trim them, water them, etc. Any advice would be great.

Answer: Most perennials do well with an evenly moist soil, meaning damp but not sopping wet or saturated. Water deeply to encourage deep roots; it is better to water deeply less often than to sprinkle lightly daily. Water only if needed to supplement rain -- you may find that in most years you only need to water during dry spells in mid to late summer.

Using a layer of organic mulch year round, several inches deep over the root area, will help reduce watering needs, hold down weeds, and help feed the soil slowly over time asit breaks down. In late fall the mulch should be layered deeper, but do not cover the crowns of the plants.

In early spring and again in June apply a top dressing of good quality compost and/or a general purpose fertilizer such as a granular or slow release 10-10-10 per the label instructions.

Most perennials are trimmed back after frost in the fall. Some may also benefit from deadheading or mid season trimming, depending on what kind they are specifically.

Most perennials also benefit from being divided every few years. You might want to look at a book or two about perennials to help you identify what you have and begin to learn any specialized care requirements.

Enjoy your garden!

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