Perennial Care In The Fall


Fall Gardening

Fall is for planting, though no one believes it. It is also a great time for splitting perennials, and transplanting, particularly with the moisture reach year we have had. If your perennials have been in the ground three years or more, they are not only eligible for division, but ripe for it.

When perennials in limited beds are left to their own devices for too long, they tend to start choking themselves out. By digging them up, dividing them and replanting them, you are actually doing them a favor. Have no room to plant them you say? Consider creating some new beds in front of shrubs and around trees. Get rid of lawn areas that are constantly failing, or are in an unused area of your property. The side of the house is a prime candidate for replanting split perennials; many “foundation” plantings lack perennial beds of any kind.

Select an area you want to plant, take some rope or a garden hose and lay out the beds before you do anything else. Look at the relationship of the bed to whatever is behind it and consider the height of the tree, shrub, or structure. If there is room, try to reflect the height with the widest point of your lovely curved bed. In tighter spaces, where it is not possible to reflect the height of other objects, consider the width of the area you are working with. Generally, a ration of 2/3 to 1/3 will work in tighter spaces.  For example, 2/3 open space, 1/3 planted or even vica versa if you are defining a transitional path.

Once you have defined the area you are working in, rework the soil, add in organic composted topsoil, maybe some peat moss or composted manure depending on what you are splitting and transplanting. Peat tends to be acid, while manure less so. Most perennials are not acid lovers. Till the new material into the soil and try to get some live, active compost to mix in as well. Alternately, purchase a product by Plant Health Care called Bio Pack, or get some compost tea. Any means to bring active biological agents into the soil will yield healthier plants in the future. Once you have prepared the soil split your perennials and start to plant your bed.No doubt there will be some extra room, with the economy down and this being fall, there are a lot of plant materials on sale right now.

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