Planting Container Grown Perennials
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Most perennials arent picky about planting times. They can be planted in the fall
or the spring, as long as they are not in a period of active growth. Generally, its
best to plant spring-flowering perennials in the fall, and late summer to fall bloomers in
the spring. You may find the best selection for variety and quality at the nursery in the
spring. On the other hand, you can find some real bargains at your local nursery in the
late summer and early fall. Save these in a sheltered area and keep them watered until the
Perennials are generally sold in pots or bare-root. Here are the steps to follow when
planting a potted perennial:
- Dig a hole about twice as wide and a little deeper than the pot. Mix ample amounts of
composted manure or other organic material with the soil you remove from the hole.
- Knock the plant out of the pot by holding the pot upside-down and tapping its rim on a
hard surface, or thumping the bottom of the pot with your fist.
- If the roots look like theyve wound around the bottom sides of the pot, pry them
loose with your fingers or cut through them shallowly with a sharp knife.
- Put enough soil in the bottom of the hole to bring the crown of the plant (the spot
where the roots join the stem, or, if you cant see the roots, the top of the root
ball) about even with the surrounding soil surface.
- Fill the soil in and around the root ball, making sure you press it in firmly, to
eliminate any air pockets.
- Water the plant deeply with a slow stream of water. If the soil around the root ball
settles, fill in the depression with more soil.
- Cover the soil with a layer of mulch (shredded bark, compost, wood chips, for example).
This will keep the soil moist and cool, allowing the plant to become established.
Dennis Patton, DPatton@oznet.ksu.edu
County Extension Agent, Horticulture
Johnson County, Kansas
Kansas State University Research and Extension