The biggest difference between perennial and annual plants are their lifespan. Annuals will bloom all at once and last one or two seasons – but will not live through the full year and will need replacing year after year. Perennial blooms will last one or two seasons as well, but the plant itself is a lasting fixture in the garden. They will survive the remaining seasons and return to give you years of enjoyment after your initial purchase. As an added bonus, some perennials will provide spectacular foliage color in the off-blooming seasons to add even more interest to the landscape.

  There are a wide variety of perennial plants and bloom colors available, making it easy to find the desired plant, but possibly more difficult to decide on a type of perennial.You’ll want to take into account the conditions of the soil and sun where you are

planting. Some will do well in full sun, while others will thrive in shady, wet conditions. Also, keep in mind the bloom time in comparison to surrounding plants in the landscape.

Perennials are very regular in their bloom time. Unless weather anomalies such as overly wet, dry, hot or cold seasons are present, you can expect to see your perennials bloom around the same time each year. In the scope of caring for these plants, it’s important to know when they will bloom – whether in the spring, summer, or fall seasons. This will help you to focus your attention when it’s needed.

The size and growth rate of your perennials will also factor in to the type of care that is shown for the plants. Expect your perennials to grow and expand with each following year. Ignoring their natural expansion will leave you with and overgrown landscape that is not as healthy for the plants, or pleasing to the eye. Use proper pruning and division techniques to keep your perennials at a healthy, manageable size.

When ever you prune any perennial, shrub, tree, etc. you want to make sure you are using the right tool that will get the job done with the least amount of effort by you – the pruner. Hand pruners are generally the desired tool for deadheading and trimming perennials under 12 inches. Larger perennials may require loppers or shearers. Sharpen your tools before use for the health of the plant and to maximize their efficiency.

  Deadheadng is the practice of removing spent flowers. This is generally done with hand pruners before the flower is allowed to naturally wilt and fall off. This is done to focus the perennial’s resources to the blooms. that are budding or in full bloom.

It will actually increase total bloom time on the plant for up to several weeks. It is also done to promote re-bloom or to prevent seeds to develop and spread in the landscape.

Different kinds of pruning cuts can be used to achieve your desired results. A heading cut removes part of the shoot, usually right above the leaf, to promote a burst of growth from that area of the plant. Pinching is done with your thumb and forefinger; it is done when a bud is spent and prevents the stem from growing in that direction. Thinning is done to prevent as much re-growth as possible. The cuts remove entire branches or stems at the point of origination. This will remove clusters of unwanted or heavy shoots and scale back the size of the plant.

Dividing a perennial should be done when several conditions are met. First, the plant should look healthy. Second, optimal weather planting conditions should be present. In other words, if a particular plant looked good at the height of the season late spring or summer, then plan to divide the plant in the fall, especially if the perennial has run out of room to grow or when stalks, leaves, or blooms look weaker in the center than the edges.

To divide the plant, dig up the root clump and divide it into sections. Replant the freshest, healthiest section into soil that has been turned, aerated, and/or rejuvenated with fresh soil. The other sections can be replanted in other areas of the garden. Dividing perennials is recommended every three to five years.

Before you prune or divide any of your plants, its prudent to do a little research about the plant. Contact a landscaping professional or access online resources to help you decide the best approach and timing for your care. Every plant has different needs and the wrong decision can decrease your blooms or be damaging to the plant’s overall health.

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