The Q&A Archives: First Year Perennials

Question: I grew perennials from seed. I planted them approximately 3 weeks ago: coneflowers, black eyed susans, coreopsis, sedum autumn joy, astilbes and daisies. I have started to come to the conclusion that the plants are going to take a full year before they really developand take root. Am I correct? And should I expect better years to follow?

Answer: In a nutshell, yes.

First year summer sown perennial seedlings are indeed small but the plants should take off like rockets next spring and bloom at their normal times. In fact, some gardeners will also start their seedlings in early spring and set them out into the ground earlier in the season in order to allow the plants a few more weeks of time to develop during their first year.

This is why many gardeners will use a "nursery bed" for their baby perennial plants. By segregating them in one area, the gardener can keep an eye on them and assure they receive optimum growing conditions including adequate moisture and nutrients during their first season in the ground. After that they are large enough to transplant into the border allowing for their mature spacing needs.

Take heart -- you are growing a wonderful selection of very rewarding plants. And in a few years you will be able to propagate these by division which is much faster than waiting for seedlings!

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