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Perennials? Annuals?

You see the words annual and perennial on plant tags and in garden books. What do these terms mean and why should you care? Simply put, annual plants die in the winter season. You must replant them every year. Perennials come back from year to year – you only plant them once.

At Lakeside Garden Nursery, we specialize only in perennials – plants that will come back year after year to grace your gardens with their beauty. Perennials make gardening easier. They are for those who want to enjoy a beautiful garden, but don't want to invest time and money to buy new seeds or small plants from the garden center, and plant them every spring. They are a one-time purchase that pays you back for years, making them a great economic choice for gardeners on any budget. 

The trade off with perennials is that instead of putting all their energy towards producing flowers, like annuals do, they reserve some of their energy for growing strong roots -- so that they will be around from year to year.

This strong root system is their super-power. Their first growing season, they put a lot of effort into establishing a strong root system, before their first winter.  That first year especially, make sure to give them enough water (about an inch a week), keep them weeded, and apply a slow release fertilizer. This will go a long way to helping their roots grow deep.

The second growing season, you will see the benefits of last year's care, as the plants bloom and flourish. A major benefit of perennials is that once they are established, they generally need less care than annuals as their root systems are able to give them the nutrients they need. Most perennials also require less water than their annual counterparts, once they are established, which can be especially advantageous for all of us who want to reduce our water consumption.

Because perennials remain in the soil, and the soil is not disturbed by pulling and replanting each year, their root systems work to improve the structure of your soil. The ground is aerated and channeled by their roots, allowing water to travel through the soil more efficiently. This benefits not only the perennials, but also other plants that are living in the area to get the water and oxygen they need to flourish.

Most perennials will bloom for a window of about 4-6 weeks because they are putting the rest of their energy towards developping their strong root systems to carry them from year to year. Because of this, we recommend choosing a combination of perennials for your garden that will bloom at different times of the year, to extend your bloom time. With a little planning, it's possible to have blooms all season long.

While most perennials last a long time, they do not last forever. Most are easy to propagate by dividing and replanting to produce new plants to fill your gardens and even to pass along to friends as gifts.

The best way to know which perennials are best to plant in your yard, is to take a look around your neighborhood. If it grows well at your neighbor's house, given the same conditions – sun, soil and water – it should grow well at your house. (This also gives you a good indication of which ones the deer are less likely to eat.)

Popular perennials include: Iris, Peonies, Black-Eyed Susans, Salvias, Hostas & Daylilies

Planting a variety of perennials that bloom at different times can create the backbone of your garden and will save you work down the road. Adding in annuals here and there can be a great way to experiment, maintain constant color and refresh your garden year after year.

If you would like help planning your perennial garden, come and visit us at Lakeside Gaden Nursery and we will be happy to help you put together a garden that impresses.


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