A Guide To Choosing Perennials

I would say this wouldn't I, but perennials are essential to every garden, easy to grow and maintain, and provide months of colour, year-after-year. But with so many perennials to choose from selecting the right ones can be rather difficult, if not confusing. Here are few tips that you should considered before buying a plant.

Soil Is Important

Most perennials grow in well-drained soil that does not stay wet for long, but if the soil is really dry or stays wet for a long time there are still many varieties to choose from. Because most perennials originate from meadow or grass land they grow best in soil that is not too rich in nutrients. If you are uncertain about your soil type a simple to use shop-bought soil tester can be useful. Be aware though, that the soil in one area of your border may be different to that in another area.

Plants For Sun & Shade

The amount of light available to a plant will also define your choice of plants. Stand in the place where the plants are to be grown and take a look at where the sun is. Most perennials need sun for a good proportion of the day, say from 10 am to 4pm, while some are natural woodlanders and love shady spots. 

Think About The Height & Width Of A Plant

Perennials come in all shapes and sizes. Tall ones can grace the back of a border, while short, spreading types are great for the very front. As perennials die back in autumn and re-emerge in spring they strive to reach the ultimate height and width within one growing season. They also grow at different rates so if you plant a tall perennial in front of a short one, the shorter plant will be hidden if they both bloom at the same time.  

When Do Flowering Time

I love my garden to have flowers for as much of the year as possible, but some gardeners don’t spend much time in the garden until the days get warmer and lighter. Consider when you use the garden most. For instance if space is limited don’t waste money growing early spring flowering perennials that may never be seen at the end of the garden.

Consider Colour

Just as you spend time choosing curtains for your windows, the choice of flower colour is a personal thing. Most of us have favourite colours so don’t let anyone say that you should not put two disparate tones, such as yellow and pink, together. If its what you want, go with it!

Other Things To Think About

There are other considerations that might help limit the number of plants to choose from. You might want to attract wildlife, or to cut flowers for the vase. If space is limited you may want the longest flowering varieties. You can also choose plants that have been awarded the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the Royal Horticultural Society. It is a great guide, but not one that is faultless.

You can select soil type, amount of sun (full sun, partial shade, etc), height and width and much more when you BROWSE PERENNIALS on the webstie. My book ‘Claire Austin’s Book of Perennials’ can provide you with more information too.

Posted on .

More articles

What should I do when I get my perennials?
As soon as you get your plants open the box up and remove them from the packing. This stops them from 'sweating'. Depending on what time of year, and the weather conditions, this ...
12 February •  1 min read
Perennials For Dry Soil
Rain is not a problem here in the Welsh Marches, can’t stop the stuff from coming down. But this has not been the case with all the places I have gardened on or grown nursery stock...
02 January •  5 min read
(Elephant's ears) Mention to a gardener that you like Bergenias and you get a long, confused stare as though to say ‘what those boring things!’ But I really do like and respect these robust, immens...
20 February •  5 min read
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more