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USDA Hardiness Planting Zones

To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold-hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures; the lower the zone number the colder the winter.

  • If the coldest winter temperature expected in your area is -15°F (zone 5) then any plants rated zones 3-5 will survive the winter temperatures in your area.
  • If you live in very warm winter areas (zones 9-11) plants with zones 3-4 ratings are not recommended. The lack of freezing winter temperatures do not provide a time for winter dormancy (rest).

Why Plant Perennials?

perennial lupine and poppies

No matter where you’re gardening, when it’s time to plan your next growing season there are usually two options: annuals or perennials. While annuals have their obvious benefits and can offer bright color for containers, perennials are often the better choice when it comes to low maintenance, economic value and statement.

Less Maintenance, More Time For You

Whether you’re planting a wildflower meadow or a formal garden, perennial varieties require much less maintenance than annuals. You can expect to spend less time and effort feeding, watering, and otherwise tending to your plants.

perennial rudbeckia phlox and echinacea
Many perennials are extremely low maintenance, including Echinacea and Black Eyed Susan.

Steps To Planting A Perennial Garden Or Meadow:

  1. Plant in the fall or spring – with perennials it doesn’t really matter.
  2. Water and weed regularly in the first season.
  3. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see blooms the first year – all perennial wildflowers and most plants only show green growth in their first growing season.
  4. The second and successive years you’ll enjoy colorful blooms with little maintenance.

Like all gardens, you’ll want to weed regularly and supplement with occasional water when it’s really dry, but established perennial meadows and gardens require very little fuss and attention. This gives you more time to enjoy your landscape and not be tending to it frequently.

perennial daylilies and phlox
Daylilies multiply each year and can be dug up, divided and re-planted every few seasons.

Plant Perennials And Get More Bang For Your Buck

Unlike annuals, perennials are a one-time purchase and a great economic choice for gardeners on any budget.

Many perennials, such as Daisies, Lupine, Daylilies and more even multiply each year, offering up a great chance to divide and re-plant in other spots in your garden. Learn how to divide plants in our blog.

plant perennials like milkweed
Once established, Milkweed is a low maintenance perennial that the pollinators in your area depend on.

Big Statement

The season-long statement that perennial gardens and meadows offer up is unmatched by most. Often planned and meticulously designed to shift with the season, these gardens add bold, unified statements that can be depended on each season. See some of our favorite perennial combinations in our blog.

Some Of Our Favorite Perennials

5 thoughts on “Why Plant Perennials?”

  • john

    when I should purchase seed for fall planting (North Central Florida)?

    Reply
  • Howard Hunter

    Not a comment, just more dumb questions if you wonderful people can stand more from me!! Here goes!! I have rototilled my new plot and it looks good. Now, I would like to know if it is ok to cover the entire 21 x 21 ft. piece w/ 4ply black plastic and then cut holes where I have laid out the plant diagram. I plan on covering any areas not planted w/ ornamental stone. I feel stone is prettier and will be permanent without future maintenance. Is this a smart plan or not. Don't be afraid to be blunt. I want to be wise in this adventure and I value your great advice. Will the plants get enough water in the hole area where they are planted. Maybe lastly, HaHa, will I have to worry about covering any plants for the winter after planting this fall. As you know I am in zone 5. Now, lastly again, I tested soil and have neutral Ph, and the Nitrogen-Phosphorous-and Potash all tested low. What is a good fertilizer to dress with. Thanks, Howard

    Reply
    • Jenny

      Hi Howard - thanks for your question! We don't recommend using black plastic as a weed barrier for a few reasons: it prevents necessary air circulation and water absorption throughout the living soil environment. So, skip the plastic and go for the gravel mulch all by itself - but feel free to apply a slightly thicker layer than you had originally planned. If your weeds are really pesky, you can sprinkle some corn gluten before planting; this is a natural pre-emergent, meaning that it prevents seeds from germinating (it also adds nitrogen to your soil). As long you don't use corn gluten in areas where you're intentionally sowing seeds, such as wildflowers, it can be a great tool. Hope this and Happy Gardening! - Jenny

      Reply
    • Kathy

      Hi, I'm so glad I found your site. I need some professional advice. I have an area off of my deck that will not grow grass because of the trees. That's okay. I want it to be a bird and squirrel habitat. That area is now covered with mulch with large stepping stones. My husband put in a very nice stone wall separating mulched, grassless area from the grassy part of the yard. He also built a really cool squirrel feeder and installed the squirrel feeder right next to the bird feeder. They all seem to be getting along just fine, and are sharing their daily treats. So far I have planted about six hosta plants, but don't know where to go from there. I want it to be a festive area since it is near the deck, but I am not sure what else would look good there. And, should I keep it really organized or kind of on the wild side? I lean towards wild. I would also love if my plantings would attract butterflies and pollinating insects, too. Can you give me some suggestions? I would greatly appreciate your help. Thank you very much. Kathy

      Reply
      • Jenny

        Hi, Kathy - I love your story. I've been building my own squirrel & bird-watching area off my deck in the trees, so I have some great suggestions for you! I think 'wild gardening' with native plants is a smart solution here. Gardening near trees can be difficult, yet many native plants can handle that situation. Trees usually create shade or part shade and can also suck-up any nearby soil nutrients, making it hard for other plants to get a good start. I'm thinking you could plant Trillium, (or any shady woodland wildflower) that is a little slow to spread and naturalize but is worth the wait. Pair this with Giant Ironweed, a 9 ft-tall purple aster-like wildflower that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies (or another showy, part-shade perennial wildflower). As those two get established, you can over-seed them with yellow Partridge Peas in spring and early summer. This plant also attracts pollinators, adds nutrients to the soil, and can handle sun and shade. This grouping means that your feeding area will be attracting wildlife from spring through fall, and that you'll be building up some good soil so that these plants can stay healthy and lush. Have fun and Happy Gardening! - Jenny
        http://www.americanmeadows.com/perennials/woodland-wildflowers/rose-trillium
        http://www.americanmeadows.com/wildflower-seeds/native-rare-wildflower-seeds/giant-ironweed-seeds
        http://www.americanmeadows.com/grass-and-groundcover-seeds/cover-crop-seeds/patridge-pea-seeds

        Reply
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