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How to Plant Wildflowers
Step by step instructions on how to plant your wildflower seeds.
Find mixtures for your region, or for special uses such as dry areas, partial shade, attracting animals, low growing, and more.
Over 75 choices that will bloom in the second year and for years to come.
Over 110 choices for fast color, such as poppies, cosmos, sunflowers, zinnia, and many more.
Help the birds, bees, butterflies & hummingbirds by planting wildflowers.
Wildflower seeds native to your region. Support local wildlife with native wildflowers.
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Perennial Planting Guide
Step by step instructions on how to plant your bare root or potted perennials when they arrive.
Spring Flower Bulb Planting Guides
Step by step instructions on how to plant your spring-planted flower bulbs when they arrive.
Let's Do Lawns Differently
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How to plant a cover crop
Learn about varieties which help to replenish nutrients to your soil.
Thrives in areas with cold freezing winters and hot summers.
Thrives in areas with hot temperatures.
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Clay soil is a common discovery, either in your existing garden or on the site where you're trying to create a new garden. While this can seem like a big hurdle at first, once you understand your clay soil you can play to its benefits. For instance, realizing that it drains very slowly will allow you to choose plants that prefer “wet feet.”
Ultimately, choosing the best plants for clay soil is not as limiting as you might expect. Once you know the soil's properties and what plants thrive in it, you can have a beautiful and colorful clay soil perennial garden!
Knowing what type of soil you have in your garden is very useful for determining what plants will naturally thrive there or what amendments you might want to add. Simply put, soil is made up of clay, sand, and silt particles. Most soils have a percentage of all three components, but the ratio of each is what determines your soil type.
Each type of soil has positives and negatives, but knowing yours will help you understand properties such as fast versus slow drainage, the amount of nutrients available, acidity versus alkalinity, compaction versus aeration and much more.
Clay is the smallest soil particle and sand is the largest, with silt being in between the two. If you’ve determined that you have clay soil, there are several important characteristics to understand.
First, your clay soil has great water-holding capacity. Because clay is the smallest particle, the pore spaces in the soil are tiny; therefore, water filters through very slowly and has a lot of surface area to “grab” onto.
Second, clay soil has a high nutrient holding capacity. Like the water, nutrients have a lot of surface area to bond and hold onto, making themselves available for plant uptake.
Some difficulties of clay soil include its very little air-holding capacity. This can make it difficult for roots to grow through and maneuver within it. Clay soil also has a tendency of getting very hard and cracking when it does dry out. Turning in organic matter would help aerate the soil and keep this hard surface from happening. Another recommendation is to avoid working in your clay soil right when it is very wet as it will compact very easily and destroy the soil structure.
Overall, dealing with clay soil can be difficult at times, but can also provide a basis for a nutrient rich and cheerful garden. Here are a few lists of perennials that will thrive in your clay soil garden!
Aster ‘Wood’s Pink’ is a dwarf pink aster reaching only 8-12” tall. It is extremely dependable with profuse blooms from late summer to fall that spread to larger clumps every year. Similarly, Aster ‘Wood’s Purple’ is a reliable and disease resistant purple blooming aster. This one grows from 12-18” tall, providing bountiful blooms late into autumn as well.
Astilbes are extremely easy to grow and dependable for your shade garden. ‘Deutschland’ provides striking white plumes to brighten up a shady area mid to late summer. You can also go with a mix of colors in shades of pinks, whites, and reds.
Coming in nearly every color you can imagine, bearded irises are a garden favorite! They require very little attention and have no problem competing for their place in the garden. The rhizomes multiply fairly quickly, so it is helpful to divide the plants every few years to avoid overcrowding and spread your iris collection. Many bearded irises are reblooming, so you can enjoy their color both in late spring and in early to mid fall.
Black Eyed Susans are a must-have in your garden. They produce yellow daisy-like flowers with black centers topping off at 3’ tall. ‘Goldsturm’ is a popular variety blooming profusely from mid-summer to early-fall.
Daylilies are an extremely low maintenance and dependable perennial that comes in nearly every color! Blooming in summer (with some reblooming varieties), your garden will excel with these must-have perennials.
Echinacea, or coneflower, is an extremely popular perennial – and for good reason! ‘Magnus’ has showy pink-purple flowers with a mature height up to 3’ tall. For a less traditional and slightly shorter variety, ‘Double Scoop Orangeberry’ will add bold red-orange color to your garden.
There are so many hosta options to fit exactly what you need in your shade garden. Whether you are looking for blue, deep-green, or lime-green color, white or lavender flower stalks, delicate or massive foliage, a hosta will fill your space with a dependable presence.
Autumn Joy’ produces a reliable pink clump about 2’ tall. Blooming mid-summer to mid-fall, you get this bright color as other perennials are starting to slow down. This is a very carefree perennial, requiring little attention. Just plant it, sit back, and enjoy!
For less maintenance, these plants take care of themselves naturally deterring deer and rabbits.
To get a full season of color in your clay soil garden, start by planting early spring bloomers such as bearded irises, Hepatica, and creeping phlox. This early spring display would then be joined with late spring to early summer blooming Indian pink, daylilies, butterfly bush, Helenium, and Echinacea.
For your shady garden, Hostas and Astilbes will give you a bright bloom in the early summer. The peak of summer would continue to add color from tall panicle phlox, black eyed susans, blue and red cardinal flower, and bee balm. With the end of summer comes the color of sedum and asters which transition your garden to its autumn stage. Here, your summer garden is joined with more bearded iris (if you have reblooming varieties) and Liatris for your shade garden.
The persistent blooms of Helenium and Echinacea will last through the cooling temperatures of late fall. A garden filled with these clay loving plants will give you a colorful cottage-like garden that fills out more and more every year!
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