Selecting Healthy Perennials
Perennials are grown for both their foliage and their flowers. Their ability to come back each year and their generally carefree culture make them the backbone of the garden. With reasonable care, perennials establish a colorful and attractive presence, increasing each season in value.
The key to successful perennial gardening is the selection of healthy plants, well adapted to the climate and growing conditions of USDA Horticultural Zones 4 and 5 and Heat Zone 7.
Whenever possible, choose your plants from reputable and knowledgeable local sources. You will see what you are getting, and you will avoid the cost and possible damage of packaging and shipping. You should also get fresh plants at the appropriate time for planting.
Most perennials are sold in pots of various sizes for spring planting. Some are sold in peat or fiber pots that may be planted directly into the prepared soil. These pots break down slowly, so it is usually desirable to remove the plant from the pot before planting. Inspect the plants offered for sale carefully to be sure the pots and plants are free of insects, stem damage, and evidence of obvious dryness or over-watering. Roots emerging from the bottoms of pots usually indicate that the plants are root-bound. Remove the plant carefully from its pot and loosen the roots to spread them out when planting.
When selecting perennials, be aware of light requirements, the eventual size and proper spacing of the plants, and how they relate to the color and texture of other plant material in the garden.