Monday, May 30, 2011

Perennial gems

In the plant world, a perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. In comparison, annuals live for a year (or season) as their name implies. It's hard to know exactly what to buy when faced with so many options at the big box stores. If you are looking for temporary color and want to change plants often - look for annuals. But, if you are looking to build on an existing garden or start one - look for perennials.

Do research to see what grows well in your area. The internet is great (of course), but utilize friends and neighbors as well. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you are still stumped, take a trip to a local nursery and ask their advice. They will be able to point you in the right direction and you know they want to make a sale - so they have incentive to help. Also, check with friends/neighbors or even your local community groups (like Freecycle) for seed swaps. Here's a little tidbit of advice to get you started!

I found a list of perennials in Better Homes and Gardens magazine that seem to grow effortlessly and make you look like a real gardening genius. Leave the hard stuff to the experts (until you know more) and reap the rewards this season.

Top 5 No-Fail Perennials
(photos and content from BHG)

HOSTA (2nd, right)
This favorite (Hosta spp., Zones 4-8) makes any shade garden shine. Combinations of different leaf
colors make striking displays.
Their favorites: 'Halcyon' offers outstanding bluish-green foliage;
'Patriot' is a dependable white and
green variegated type.

ASTILBE (top right)
Another dependable shade performer, astilbe (Zones 4-8) needs moist conditions but is undemanding otherwise. The plume-like blossoms brighten any
shady corner of the garden.
Their favorites: Color Flash Lime
astilbe adds another dimension with brilliant chartreuse leaves as well as attractive flowers.

BLACK-EYED SUSAN (3rd, right)
Yellow daisies are yours in abundance with black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia varieties, Zones 4-9). With average
water, summer sun and heat are no
sweat for this stunner.
Their favorites: 'Prairie Sun' is a striking bi-colored variety with orange centers; 'Indian Summer' bears large yellow blooms with dark centers.

DAYLILY (4th, right)
Daylillies (Hemerocallis spp., Zones 3-9), are as tough as they are beautiful. The grass-like foliage frames large flowers available in a rainbow of colors.
Their favorites: 'Ruby Stella', with season-long red blooms on dwarf plants, and 'Persian Market', an award-winning variety with rose-color blooms.

CONEFLOWER (bottom right)
The rugged native (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 4-9) is a rich source of summer color and the seed heads are a great food source for birds.
Their favorites: Orange and yellow Meadowbrite varieties offer new colors beyond the typical purple. 'White Swan' is a beautiful solid-white cultivar.

As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment or send me a message. I'm more than happy to help. Until next time - Happy Gardening and have fun playing in the dirt!

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