Child and unpacked perennials at a gardenChild and unpacked perennials at a garden

When Your Perennials Arrive

By Ray The Gnome

Whether you're planting potted perennials or bare-root plants, we’re here to help! There are a few steps you can take to help your plants get established quickly so that they can grow to their full potential.


Here are some guidelines:

Open the box immediately, protect them from cold, and water each potted plant.
Some of your potted plants may have new green growth. Some may not. If you see no leaves, don't worry; this is normal. The roots in the pot are healthy and ready to grow in your garden.

Plant as soon as you can.
If your weather cooperates (above freezing), begin planting as soon as possible. If not, keep your perennials where they get some sun through a window, and keep potted plants moist, not soggy. Leave bareroot plants in their packaging, but if they are dry, moisten them.

Not ready to dig in?
We have tips for that! Learn More: How To Care For Bulbs & Perennials If You Can’t Plant Right Away

Watch: Unpacking Your Perennials


Planting Potted Perennials

First, arrange your potted plants where you intend to grow them. Be sure to space them out with enough room for them to reach their mature size. This may seem like a lot of space now, but as they grow, they will fill out. Trust us. 

Dig a hole as deep and a little wider than the pot. Most perennials should be planted at the same depth as they are in their containers. It's okay to give them a little extra wiggle room.

Planting new perennialsPlanting new perennials
Check the plant tag or product page to find your new plants mature size. Be sure to leave enough space between plants for them to reach their full spread and potential

Carefully remove the plant from its pot by holding one hand over the soil and tapping the bottom of the pot. Squeezing the pot can help loosen the root ball from the pot. Don't pull on the plant or you may damage the stem. Rough the roots a little to encourage their spread.  Place the root ball into the planting hole, doublechecking to be sure that the top of the root ball is even with the soil surface. Then backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it as you go. 

Water thoroughly after planting, and continue to water at least every two weeks, depending on rainfall.

Visit The Tool Shed, where you'll find our growing guides to help you grow with confidence!

Planting Bareroot Perennials

Set your bareroot plants where you intend to grow them. Be sure to leave enough space between them so they can reach their mature size. Generally speaking, you will want to dig a hole deep enough to bury the rootball. Check the plant tag or product page for requirements of the species itself – they can prefer different things as far as depth and orientation go.

Planting Bare RootsPlanting Bare Roots
Examine the roots to determine the approximate width and depth of the planting hole you’ll need. Unless otherwise noted, set the plant so the crown — the point where the stems and leaves meet the roots — sits about an inch below the soil surface

Any eyes, stems or greenery should be above the soil line. All root matter should be below. If you are unsure which end is up, look closely for buds or remnants of stems that indicate the top of the plant. If you’re still unsure, set the roots on their side. The plant will know which way to grow.

Water well after planting, and continue regular watering, depending on rainfall. Practice patience – Your new plants have to adapt to their new home and may take some time to show growth.

Bareroot plants arrive in a dormant state, ready to grow once they're planted.
Plant as soon as possible after you receive your plants. If you must store bareroots before planting, keep them in a cool room and protect them from freezing.

Learn more about your bareroot perennials.


Planting bee balmPlanting bee balm
Selecting the right location is key to success. Be sure to match your plants to their environment, so that they thrive for years to come!

Right Plant, Right Place: Soil, Sun & Shade

Before setting plants out, be sure the spots you've chosen are good for the perennials you're planting. If you have questions about whether your plants demand full sun or can withstand partial shade, how tall the plant will grow, or other details, please consult the planting information on each product page on our website. (Search the name of the plant in the search box at the top of this page!) You can also visit The Tool Shed for our helpful planting guides.

For example, if you're planting bareroot peonies, remember peonies mature into large plants and like rich soil, so be sure the soil is rich and deep for each one. Or, if you're planting yarrow or lavender, remember these plants absolutely have to have drier conditions in wide, open full sun.

Of course, you can invest a lot of hard work in changing the character of the soil in your garden, adding compost to make the soil richer, or adding sand or gravel to make it drain more quickly. However, when you choose the right plants for your soil, the soil you have will probably be fine!

Every perennial garden has areas that vary in conditions. For example, you may have areas in your garden that are rich deep soil with good, but not quick, drainage; these are the spots with rich, dark soil that is almost always moist. Plants like daylilies and astilbes love these spots. Then there are usually the hot, dry spots. Maybe the soil is more gravelly here, and the area is a little raised, so drainage is extra-sharp, and the whole area is in the hot, baking sun all summer. Plants like yarrows, lavenders, and coneflowers are very happy here.

The groups below make good companion plants, since each group enjoys the same basic garden conditions. Of course, consider these groupings "rules of thumb," since there are no hard and fast rules. Also, many plants are adaptable and appear in more than one group.



The Deep Rich Soil Group

Some perennials do best in rich soil, with plenty of moisture throughout the season. These are the classic perennial plants that enjoy "good garden soil."


The Hot, Dry, Gravelly Soil Group

Some perennials demand more arid conditions, with quick-draining loose soil and full sun all season long. Many of these plants are originally from prairie or desert-like areas, so need dry conditions.


The Partial Shade Group

Most of these perennials can withstand full sun, but also do well in areas that are shaded part of the day.

Watering: Not Too Much, Not Too Little

Perennials generally need water at least every two weeks, so if rain doesn't supply it, it's up to you. In the first season, perennials may need supplemental water to establish healthy roots. It's generally best to water deeply, and less frequently, rather than watering lightly and often; this helps perennials establish deep and resilient roots. 

Watering a new perennialWatering a new perennial
Be sure to water thoroughly after you plant your new perennials. Watering deeply but less frequently will encourage root development, which will help keep your garden healthy

As your plants grow, you'll get to know their characteristics. There's no secret to all this — just observe them closely. If you see good growth, it usually means that the plant is happy in the spot you chose for it, and your watering is about right. On the other hand, if certain plants stubbornly sit there and do nothing, or even worse, seem to start withering away, you need to take action.

A dryland plant like Yarrow or Lavender will begin suffering quickly if you're watering it too much. And likewise, moisture-lovers like daylilies or spiderworts will begin withering the same way if they're not getting the water they need. When you see this happening, you have two choices: Either adjust the watering for the plants that are showing stress, or dig up the whole plant with plenty of soil and move it to a new spot that's more to its liking. If you do that when your perennials are young, it's almost no work, and it can improve your success with the plant over the years to come.

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