How to Plant or Grow Perennial Flower Garden

How to Plant or Grow Perennial Flower Garden

Plant Perennials To Have More Beauty with Less Work

Perennials are an indispensable part of every garden, regardless of size. They are a source of background in color and size and provide an abundance of cut flowers. The long-time standard favorites peonies, iris, delphinium, phlox, chrysanthemums, and a few others, together with the newer plants given us by the hybridizes . . .such as the daylily that blooms over a five-month period, phlox in amazing colors, and larger improved peonies-give us plant material that provides almost ever blooming borders and no end for the use of our ideas. Contrary to popular belief, perennials are not expensive to grow.

Planning the Perennial Border

Tall background plants are a must. Use a hedge, shrub border, a trellis, a fence, or a wall. Perennials prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Choose plants that will give continuous bloom. A good arrangement is tall plants in the back, low ones. in the foreground, and medium ones in the middle with strong accent plants placed irregularly in the middle sections. Plant so as to mass varieties in groups of three to five or more. Consider foliage in this planning.

Perennial Plants from Seed

Many perennials can be propagated from seeds. Follow these steps:

  1. Prepare a fine seedbed in a cold frame or in the garden. Thoroughly mix into the soil enough humus material and sand to give a friable soil, then mix one tablespoonful of fertilizer per square foot of bed area.
  2. Sow seed of most perennials in early summer (May or June) in rows 6 inches apart. Cover 3 times the seed diameter with soil sifted over them. Tamp the soil firmly with a flat board after sowing.
  3. Cover bed with burlap or cheesecloth. Water often, sprinkling through the cover.
  4. When seedling plants appear above ground, raise cover to about 1 foot high.
  5. When seedlings are about 6 weeks old, remove shade cover and scratch fertilizer into the soil between rows at the rate of 1 tablespoonful per 3 feet of row, using 1/2 on either side of row.
  6. In late summer or early fall the plants may be transplanted into a permanent position or put into another bed for further development.

In some cases seeds of perennials may be sown in the fall.

Information on 50+ Perennials

Preparing Perennial Beds

  1. Spade deeply . . . 12 to 15 inches. If some plants are growing in the bed, remove them and “heel” them into a small trench.
  2. Add humus and drainage material … Stir or break up sub-soil if possible. Perennials do not like “wet feet.” Put drainage material (small rock and gravel) in the bottom of bed. Apply 1 pound of fertilizer to each 25 square feet of bed area. Work plant food into the soil. Turn the hose on the soil bed to hasten settling. After a few days it will be ready for transplanting.

Transplanting Perennials

Always fill the planting hole with water immediately after setting plants. Set plants as deeply as possible without covering the crowns. Set low growing plants 6 to 12 inches apart and tall plants at least 2 to 3 feet apart to leave room for cultivation and feeding, as well as for good development. Pack soil around the plant roots firmly and cover with dry soil.

Care of Established Plants

Perennials are heavy feeders and since they stay in one spot for a number of years, they require liberal feeding of complete plant food. Feed established plants early fertilizer in the spring, as soon as they appear above the ground. Use 1 pound (1 pint) of fertilizer per 25 feet of row or 25 square feet of area. Work plant food into the soil around the plants. Feed at the same rate every 8 weeks during the growing season.

Dividing Perennials

Root systems of most perennials must be divided every few years (in most cases about every 3 years), as they become crowded and the stems and flowers become small and weak. This is a fall job, except in the very cold sections, where early spring is preferable. Root divisions may be used to increase stock.

Insect and Disease Control

The regular use of chemicals will control chewing and sucking insects and most fungus disease, preventing damage before it starts.

Winter protection

Alternate freezing and thawing, rather than extreme cold, is the real danger to perennials. In most sections of the United States, beds should be mulched during the winter. Apply mulch after the ground is frozen.

Free Garden Catalog


Althaea rosea (Hollyhock)
Aster nova;-angliae (New England Aster)
Aster tataricus (Tatarian Aster)
Bocconia cordata (Plumepoppy)
Boltonia asteroides (White Boltonia)
Campanula pyramidalis (Chimney Bellflower)
Cimicifuga racemosa (Cohosh Bugbane)
Delphinium hybrids (Delphinium)
Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed)
Helianthus Maximiliani (Maximilian Sunflower)
Hibiscus grandiflorus (Great Rosemallow)
Rudbeckia laciniata (Goldenglow)
Valeriana officinalis (Common Valerian)


*Arundo Donax (Giant Reed)
Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed)
Boltonia asteroides (White Boltonia)
*Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold)
Eupatorium purpureum (Joe-pye-weed)
Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed)
Hibiscus Moscheutos (Swamp Rose-Mallow)
*Iris pseudacorus (Yellowflag)
Iris versicolor (Blueflag)
Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower)
Lysimachia clethroides (Clethra Loosestrife)
Lythrum Salicaria (Spiked Loosestrife)
Miscanthus sinensis (Eulalia)
Monarda didyma (Bee-balm)
Myosotis palustris (True Forget-me-not)
Onoclea sensibilis (Sensitive Fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon Fern)
*Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern)
Sarracenia purpurea (Pitcherplant)
Saxifraga pennsylvanica (Penn. or Swamp Saxifrage)

* May be grown in water.


Aconitum Fischeri (Azure Monkshood)
Ajuga (Bugle)
Anemone japonica (Japanese Anemone)
Anemonella thalictroides (Rue Anemone)
Asperula (Woodruff)
Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-Valley)
Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry)
Dicentra eximia (Fringed Bleeding-heart)
Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding-heart)
Dictamnus (Dittany or Gas Plant)
Epimedium alpinus (Barrenwort)
Eupatorium (Thoroughwort)
Geranium sanguineum (Blood Red Cranesbill)
Helleborus niger (Christmas-rose)
Hemerocallis flava (Daylily)
Heuchera sanguinea (Coral-bells)
Hibiscus Moscheutos (Swamp Rose-Mallow)
Hosta, in variety (Plantain Lily)
Hypericum (St. John’s-Wort)
Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)
Liatris pycnostachya (Cattail Gayfeather)
Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)
Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese Cross)
Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells)
Myosotis palustris semperflorens (Dwarf Perpetual Forget-me-not)
Phlox divaricata
Platycodon (Balloon Flower)
Polygonatum biflorum (Smaller Solomon’s-seal)
Primula, in variety (Primrose)
Thalictrum, in variety (Meadow Rue)
Trillium (Trillium)
Trollius europxus (Globeflower)
Veronica rupestris (Creeping Speedwell)


Achillea Ptarmica (Sneezewort)
Ajuga reptans (Carpet Bugle)
Anthemis tinctoria (Yellow Camomile)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)
Aster nova-angliae (New England Aster)
Callirhoe involucrata (Poppymallow)
Cassia marilandica (Wild Senna)
Coreopsis grandiflora (Tickseed)
Dianthus plumarius (Grass Pink)
Echinops Ritro (Steel Globe Thistle)
Euphorbia corollata (Flowering Spurge)
Helianthus, in variety (Sunflower)
Limonium latifolium (Statice)
Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese Cross)
Papaver nudicaule (Iceland Poppy)
Rudbeckia laciniata (Goldenglow)
Yucca filamentosa (Common Yucca)


Althaea rosea (Hollyhock)
Anchusa italica (Bugloss)
Aquilegia hybrids (Columbine)
Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell)
Chelone Lyoni (Pink Turtlehead)
Cimicifuga racemosa (Cohosh Bugbane)
Doronicum plantagineum (Leopard’s-bane)
Linaria (Toadflax)
Monarda didyma (Bee-balm)
Paeonia (Peony)
Physostegia (False Dragonhead)
Polemonium (Valerian)
Pulmonaria saccharata (Bethlehem Lungwort)
Pyrethrum (Chrys. coccineum) (Pink Daisy)
Saxifraga (Saxifrage)
Silene pennsylvanica (Peatpink)


Anchusa italica (Bugloss)
Aquilegia chrysantha (Golden Columbine)
Campanula carpatica (Carpathian Harebell)
Delphinium, if cut back
Heuchera sanguinea (Coral-bells)
Iris, fall blooming varieties
Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Pea)
Lychnis Coronaria (Dusty Miller)
Phlox, if cut back
Scabiosa graminifolia (Pincushion or Mourning Bride)
Scabiosa sylvatica
Verbascums, if cut back (Mullein)
Viola cornuta (Tufted Pansy)
Viola tricolor (Heart’s-ease)


Aconitum, in variety (Monkshood)
Althaea rosea (Hollyhock)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-Pulpit)
Asters, old varieties
Campanula, in variety (Bellflower)
Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-Valley)
Delphinium belladonna (Delphinium)
Delphinium formosum (Formosa Delphinium)
Dianthus arenarius (Sand Pink)
Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)
Dianthus plumarius (Grass or Garden Pinks)’
Dianthus superbus (Lilac Pink)
Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding-heart)
Dictamnus (Dittany or Gas Plant)
Digitalis, in variety (Foxgloves)
Hemerocallis (Lemon Lily)
Hepatica triloba (Hepatica, or Liverwort)
Hesperis matronalis (Sweet Rocket)
Lilium candidum (Madonna Lily)
Lilium tigrinum (Tiger Lily)
Lunaria (Honesty) (Biennial)
Lupinus, not new varieties (Lupines)
Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese Cross or Scarlet Lychnis)
Mertensia (Mertensia or Blue Bells)
Myosotis, in variety (Forget-me-nots)
Paeonia officinalis types (Peony)
Primula veris (Primrose)
Trillium, in variety (Trillium or Wake Robin)
Viola odorata (Sweet Violet)
Viola, in variety (Pansies)


Acanthus latifolius (Acanthus)
Bocconia cordata (Plume Poppy)
Cimicifuga racemosa (Bugbane)
Dipsacus fullonum (Teasel)
Echinops Ritro and exaltatus (Globe Thistles)
Elymus arenarius (Wild-rye)
Eulalia japonica (Eulalia)
Helianthus orgyalis (Sunflower)
Heracleum giganteum (Cow-parsnip)
Kniphofia Uvaria (Torchlily)
Onopordum Acanthium (Scotch Thistle)
Polygonum sachalinense (Sacaline)
Silphium perfoliatum (Rosinweed)
Spira;a Aruncus (Spirea)
Telekia cordifolia (Telekia)
Verbascum olympicum (Mullein)
Yucca filamentosa (Yucca)

(Well-drained soil)


Brunnera macrophylla [Anchusa myosotidiflora] (Siberian Bugloss)
Chrysanthemum uliginosum (Giant Daisy)
Cimicifuga racemosa (Cohosh Bugbane)
Grasses (Ornamental Grasses)
Hemerocallis, in variety (Daylily)
Iris, in variety
Lythrum Salicaria (Spiked Loosestrife)
Myosotis palustris semperflorens (Dwarf Perpetual Forget-me-not)
Tradescantia virginiana (Spiderwort)
Trollius europa;us (Globeflower)


Anemone japonica (Jap. Anemone)
Cimicifuga racemosa (Cohosh Bugbane)
Epimedium macranthum (Longspur Epimedium)
Eupatorium purpureum (Joe-pye-weed)
Iris cristata (Crested Iris)
Lythrum Salicaria (Spiked Loosestrife)
Tradescantia virginiana (Spiderwort)

Perennials requiring additional water drainage to help them survive. Recommend adding pumus and or do a raised garden if you are having problems keeping these perennials alive.


Arabis alpina (Alpine Rockcress)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)
Aubrietia deltoides (Purple Rockcress)
Coreopsis grandiflora (Tickseed)
Delphinium hybrids (Delphinium)
Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)
Digitalis purpurea (Common Foxglove)
Echinops Ritro (Steel Globe Thistle)
Eryngium maritimum (Sea-holly)
Gaillardia aristata (Blanket-flower)
Globularia trichosantha (Globe Daisy)
Helianthus Maximiliani (Maximilian Sunflower)
Iris germanica (Bearded Iris)
Liatris pycnostachya (Cattail Gayfeather)
Papaver nudicaule (Iceland Poppy)


Achillea serrata (Millfoil or Yarrow)
Ajuga genevensis (Geneva Bugle)
Alyssum saxatile (Goldentuft)
Arabis albida (Wallcress)
Cerastium tomentosum (Snow-in-Summer)
Dianthus deltoides (Maiden Pink)
Dianthus plumarius (Grass Pink)
Eryngium campestre (Hundred Thistle)
Euphorbia Myrsinites (Myrsinites-like Spurge)
Geranium sanguineum (Blood Red Cranesbill)
Geranium maculatum (Spotted Cranesbill)
Gypsophila paniculata (Baby’s-breath)
Helianthemum vulgare (Rock or Sun Rose)
Iberis sempervirens (Evergreen Candytuft)
Linaria vulgaris (Toadflax)
Phlox subulata (Moss Phlox)
Potentilla tridentata (Wineleaf Cinquefoil)
Salvia azurea (Azure Sage)
Saxifraga pennsylvanica (Penn. or Swamp Saxifrage)
Sedum acre (Goldmoss)
Sedum stoloniferum (Running Sedum)
Sempervivum (Roof Houseleek)
Sempervivum arvernense (Auvergne Houseleek)
Verbascum Thapsus
Veronica rupestris (Creeping Speedwell)
Viola cucullata (Blue Marsh Violet)

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