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KATHY'S HOME & GARDEN TIPS - CARING FOR PERENNIALS

Perennials are often forgotten in the garden. They reliably bloom and grow year after year with little or no care. But with a little care they can bloom bigger and look better than you ever thought.

Perennials can be divided and replanted. This actually benefits the plant and prevents overgrowth. Two days before dividing, water thoroughly. Begin by taking a spade and making digs 6-8 inches the width of the shovel from the center of the plant. Slide the spade under to lift the entire plant and root ball. If the plant is on the smaller side (6-10 stems) simply divide in half. Gently pull apart with your hands and cut straight through the root ball. For larger plants divide into thirds. Dig new holes slightly shallower and two inches around larger than the root ball. Gently tease the root ball to loosen the roots.  Place the divided ball in the ground and backfill with topsoil augmented with root developer. Water daily for a week or so till plants are established. Sit back and watch them take off. We divided 4 large Hostas in our gangway using this method and it worked perfectly! This also works with Daylilies and other bushy blooming perennials. Divide fall bloomers in spring and summer bloomers in fall.

If your soil is particularly rich, no fertilizer is needed but unfortunately most of us are not blessed with perfect soil. A general all-purpose garden fertilizer is best. Check labels though. Acid loving perennials, like azaleas, benefit from an acid fertilizer like Miracid®. Follow label directions and resist the urge to over fertilize. More than the recommended amount can burn the plant especially during summer heat. Use two inches of mulch around the plant to conserve water and protect roots.

Cutting off spent blooms is the best way to encourage new blooms as well as making the plant look better. This is called “dead heading”. Every plant in the lawn and garden benefits from dead heading. As vegetable plants put out more veggies, the more we harvest.

With a little care we can have perennials that look great and will be blooming for many years to come.

KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 8:56 AM by Dean's Team

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