The Q&A Archives: Starting Perennials

Question: I am replanting the landscaping in the front of my house in the Chicago area. As usual, I am late in the season. I am planning on using a lot of perennials, and want to start them from seed. If I plant them directly in the ground now (mid-July), can I expect to get small plants by frost, and then blooming flowers next spring? Is there a better way I should do this? Should I start them in start pots instead? I am quite content to wait until next season for blooms.

Answer: Go ahead and prepare your planting bed, then direct sow the seeds of your perennials. The plants will grow this season, but won't flower until next year. Work some organic matter into your soil, to both retain moisture and release nutrients to the roots of your new little plants. Don't let weeds compete for sunlight, moisture or nutrients with your new perennials and they'll grow contentedly until frost. Next year they'll be ready to burst forth with bloom as soon as the weather signals them that spring has arrived.

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