Perennials are rewarding plants that continue to perform in your garden year after year. Using perennials as your garden's foundation plantings will ensure ongoing colour and interest. Mix and match them according to height, colour, and blooming season. Knowing when they will bloom lets you plan your choice of garden annuals to fill in the empty spots. Sun-loving perennial plants are available to beautify your landscape from early spring to late autumn.
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Spring-blooming peonies (Paeonia) are among the most ornamental of sun-loving perennials. Their deep-green delicate foliage unfurls on multiple stems to begin fill in the spring garden. All of the up-to-4-foot plants have showy flowers, and many of them have fragrant ones. Peonies, says the Ohio State University Extension, make outstanding cut flowers.
Plant peonies in full sun and deep well-drained soil rich in organic material and a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Space plants 3 feet apart and cover their roots' eyes with 1 to 2 inches of soil. Where the minimum winter temperature falls below -28.8 degrees Celsius, protect with winter mulch. Mix early, midseason and late blooming varieties to maximise your annual peony show.
Daylilies (Hermocallis) are the workhorses of any perennial garden. Standing 30 to 36 inches high and 2 feet wide, they bloom in June and July. Light watering in prolonged dry spells is all they ask to keep their arching green leaves looking fresh. Their abundant flowers compensate for each bloom's 24-hour lifespan.
Daylily cultivars come in a broad range of warm colours and white. Yellow, orange, pink, salmon and rust predominate. Flowers may be single or double, with smooth or ruffled edges. Daylilies are happiest, says the Missouri Botanical Garden, in rich, well-drained loam. They naturalise on their own. Overly large clumps will produce fewer blooms. Divide them as necessary.
Fall-blooming perennials, garden chrysanthemums (Dendrathema x morifolium) belong to the aster family. These light-sensitive plants, says the Smithsonian Institution's Horticultural Services Division, bloom only when daylight hours are 15 or less per day. Available in white, yellow, and several shades of purple, gold, rust and bronze, hardy mums are a staple of fall perennial gardens.
The secret to having your hardy mums return year after year is to plant them in the spring, so that their roots establish by winter. Put them in full sun and well-drained soil. Pinch off early flower buds to promote bushy growth. Continue pinching back until the first week of August. Then allow the buds to form. Feed and water regularly during the summer, and let them repay you with abundant fall blooms.
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