These six essential perennials are plants of size and substance. They can act as the backbone of your perennial garden. With the wide choice of cultivars available in each of these six basic plants, any colour scheme is possible.
Your perennial garden could realistically consist of just these perennials. You would have colour all year. But if space permits, it is so easy and fun to fill in and add to your perennial garden with the hundreds and hundreds of perennials available!
Flowering MAY to JUNE
Unlike the common wild Iris, Bearded Iris (like Messenger pictured here) need a sunny location and well-drained soil. When planting, the rhizomes should be set just below the surface of the soil. After flowering, the stems should be cut back and leaves left alone until fall. Before winter the foliage should be cut back to a few inches from the ground and dead leaves removed. Don’t mulch, as holding moisture near the rhizomes can cause rotting.
Peonies (like Festiva Maxima pictured here) are long-lived plants that will continue to flower for generations. They don’t ever need to be disturbed. However, if you do need to move them, they should be separated into sections with 3-5 ‘eyes’. A large clump moved whole would most likely stop blooming. Plant peonies no more than two inches deep, with ‘eyes’ into the soil. They will not flower if they are planted deeper.
Flowering in JUNE & JULY
Oriental poppies set the June garden ablaze with colour. They need well-drained soil and full sun or part shade. To plant poppies (like Royal Wedding pictured here) set the root straight down into a planting hole, deep enough that the crown is covered by at least 3 inches of soil. After June’s giant blooms have faded, the flowerheads should be removed and not allowed to form seed. The foliage then dies down and can leave a void in the garden. Plant daylilies nearby to fill the space. Mulch for winter, but do not cover the new basal rosettes that form in September.
These stately perennials need rich, well-drained soil. Use lots of manure in the planting mix and mulch annually. Delphiniums (like the ‘Superstars‘ mixture pictured here) are best planted in groups of 3 of a kind. By cutting out all but 3 of the best shoots to about 15cm, they will produce faster, stronger, better flowers. Plant in a spot protected from wind and/or stake delphiniums to save them from high winds. In about mid-July, when the main flowering period is over, cut some of the flower stems back to the first leaves so that they will re-bloom in August and September.
Flowering in JULY & AUGUST
Daylilies are the heart of the mid-summer garden. They flower pretty much non-stop through the heat of July and August (Stella D’Oro pictured here continues to bloom through September). They come in a huge range of colours. They are hardy, tough and reliable. Each flower lasts only a day, but they are continuously in bloom over many weeks.
Flowering in AUGUST & SEPTEMBER
These tall phlox are invaluable for continuing the summer long display of colour in the perennial garden. Choose a few kinds and plant them in irregular drifts for a magnificent display. There are a variety of colours from which to choose from (like Early Start Light Pink pictured here), many with a contrasting eye.
Re-flowering in SEPTERMBER
If in about mid-July, when the main flowering period is over, you cut some of the flower stems back to the first leaves, that they will re-bloom in August and September.