How to Maintain Herbaceous Borders

Written by serena styles Google
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How to Maintain Herbaceous Borders
Herbaceous border plants typically have bright coloured flowers. (datura image by robert casacci from

An herbaceous border is a combination of several perennial plants arranged closely together to create a dramatic, colourful border. According to Dorothée Waechter, author of "Success with Herbaceous Borders," an herbaceous plant is technically one that lives for more than two years, is non-woody and has a soft stem. Herbaceous borders often line walkways and paths, or border other types of flower or vegetable gardens. Maintaining an herbaceous border is different from tending to other common plants in a garden.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Prepare the ground for your herbaceous border in late autumn. Turn the soil and mix in compost or fertiliser to give the herbaceous border a good base. Purchase and plant dormant herbaceous rootstocks near the end of autumn before the first snowfall of winter. When spring arrives, the rootstocks will begin to grow.

  2. 2

    Tend to the plants. Water them regularly during spring and summer. Each plant will have its own specifications for how moist the soil should be and how often it will need water.

  3. 3

    Cut away any dead flowers after the plants flower. According to W. E. Shewell-Cooper, author of "The A.B.C. of the Herbaceous Border," this keeps the plant from seeding and encourages it to continue to produce flowers through the summer.

  4. 4

    Cut away dead foliage near late autumn to prepare the plants for winter. Wait for two weeks after the foliage begins to appear dead to cut it away. As the foliage dies, it sends nutrients to the plant's roots so they will survive winter. Cutting it away too early will cause the roots to die.

  5. 5

    Dig up the rootstocks if you would like to produce additional plants for the next season. Cut the rootstocks in half, leaving pieces no smaller than six inches in length. Should you leave the rootstocks any smaller, they will not survive the winter. Replant the divided rootstocks before the end of autumn. By spring, you will have twice the number of plants in your herbaceous border.

Tips and warnings

  • According to Allan M. Armitage, author of "Herbaceous Perennial Plants," when working with herbaceous borders, place plants with similar watering needs near each other.

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