How To

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

The terms ‘perennial’ and ‘alpine’ encompass dozens of species, so many gardeners can feel perplexed when deciding how to care for the differing plants in their garden. Within this post, we will detail the best way to care for your perennials and alpines, covering their planting, maintenance, and advice on mitigating common problems once they have become established.

Perennials

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

A perennial can be defined as a plant that will live in the ground for beyond two years. It will retreat into the ground during Autumn, and subsequently reemerge in Spring. As such, the planting and nurturing of perennials in your garden can be a satisfying activity, where you will be rewarded with a beautiful flowering display amongst your flower beds and borders. 

Nevertheless, it is important that you do not make any errors in terms of their planting and care, as their requirements are less versatile than an alpine’s (which are inherently accustomed to growing on more unusual surfaces, such as rockery and gravel).  

The most appropriate method to plant your perennials will depend on whether they are container-grown or bare-rooted.

Planting Container-Grown Perennials

These consist of a small-sized perennial that has been placed into a container of soil. To plant your perennial, dig a hole in your garden that is slightly larger than the container itself. The hole should be greater in terms of its width, as opposed to its depth. This will ensure that the perennial’s roots are well-buried, yet their shoots and stems will be bordering ground-level (where most moisture and nutrients is present).

To remove perennials from their container, gently tease their roots out from the soil (if you discover any spiralised roots, ensure that they have been adequately freed up from the soil).  Once finished, place your perennial into their hole, and lightly pat-down the surrounding soil. 

After your perennial has been  planted into the ground, provide it with a nourishing drink. This should be given even if the soil is presently moist, because it will mitigate against future dryness and help settle the soil.

Planting Bare-Rooted Perennials

Upon receiving your bare-rooted perennial, it is best to firstly assess their size. If they are over 75 millimeters in length, they can be planted into your garden immediately. 

If your perennial is of a smaller size, we advise you to initially place them into a pot to be ‘hardened off’ under a sheltered area. This will contribute to a more established perennial that will flourish beautifully within the impending months. 

Caring for your Perennials

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

Once planted into the ground, we encourage you to water your perennials generously; with such efforts most integral during their initial growing season. Deadheading is also recommended, as this will prevent your perennials from wasting valuable energy on spent flowers. Nonetheless, you can allow the nearby leaves on the plant to remain, as they can leverage more energy into their roots for enhanced flowering.  

How to Deadhead your Perennials

Deadheading your beloved perennials is a brilliantly-straightforward undertaking, with the only equipment required being a pair of scissors or secateurs.   To deadhead, identify any flowers on your perennial that appear spent, and carefully rescind them from below their base.

Dividing your Perennials

As part of ensuring unrivaled flowering, once every few years, it is beneficial to divide your garden’s largest-appearing perennials. If your perennials are exhibiting the following signs, they are most likely ready to be divided;

  • They have outgrown their assigned space.
  • They are producing a lesser amount of flowers.
  • The inside of the perennial appears to be in worse health.

If you wish to relieve yourself from the duty of dividing your perennials, why not purchase one of our enchanting Begonias. Due to their blooms naturally dropping off when their lifespan has completed, a Begonias’s care will not necessitate any dividing, making them a lower-maintenance option for your outdoor space.

It is most sensible to divide your perennials on a drizzly day.  If the soil appears dry, soak the soil that encircles the perennials you will be relocating. It is also important that the perennials themselves are thoroughly watered; this will provide ease in their removal from the ground.

Taking good care, loosen the soil around each perennial, and gently pick them up in their clumps. To help assess precisely where they should be divided, using a hose or a watering can that produces a gentle stream, wash off the soil to expose the roots.  With a garden fork, slowly separate the roots, and prune away any damaged areas. Once this step has concluded, you can then re-plant each segment into a hole (with their depth matching what they were previously accustomed to).  Finish off the job with a generous watering, and await your perennials’ greatest return yet.

Alpines

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

An ‘alpine‘ is considered as a plant that is traditionally accustomed to growing within mountainous districts. Therefore,  these plants will happily grow in rock gardens, paving, and walls.

Due to their versatile growing abilities, alpines have proven a popular choice amongst those with smaller or less traditional gardens. If you are hence seeking to add colourful interest to your outdoor space, please continue reading for a succinct guide to the planting and care of alpines.

Planting your Alpines

If you are presently pondering over the most appropriate time to plant your alpines, we strongly encourage you to plant them in March or April. During these months, the soil in your garden will be rich in moisture, and its temperature will be rising increasingly. 

If you are planting your alpines into a container (which many consider as the most reliable method of providing optimal growing conditions) ensure  that the soil is a composition of compost, topsoil, and grit. To be exact, each ingredient should account for a third of the overall mix.

As part of establishing excellent drainage, create several drainage holes towards the bottom of the soil mixture, and place a generously-sized piece of crock above these holes. This will mitigate against the possibility of a build-up in silt. Once your alpine has been planted, finish by adding a layer of grit. Aside from this layer’s decorative purpose, it will help protect your alpine from pests (specifically slugs). 

If you are seeking to plant your alpine into the crevasse of a wall, you can fill the crevasse with the aforementioned mixture. Nevertheless, not every alpine will subsist under these conditions. In light of this, we strongly recommend our Phlox Subulata ‘Fort Hill’; not only does this alpine display captivating, heart-shaped petals, it is an excellent means of softening your garden’s walls. This ‘Moss Phlox’ can be purchased here

Caring for your Alpines

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

Once your alpine has been planted snugly into the ground, reward it with a sufficient watering. From this point onwards, the care necessitated by your alpine is relatively straightforward; namely entailing a feed of high-potash plant food each Spring, and the deadheading of any blooms that appear spent (as previously detailed within this post). 

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