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Growing Potted Perennials

Growing Potted Perennials

Perennials can add color and foliage texture to your landscape, but be sure to make sure the perennial chosen is suited for the sun and moisture the location receives. The soil also needs to be well drained for the plant to survive. Many perennials can be low maintenance and can add color in season. Most perennials are either spring, summer or fall bloomers and the other seasons can add different foliage textures to your landscape.

Soil Preparation

Soil preparation is necessary for the long-term survival of the perennials you plant. Good drainage and fertility should be done before planting. If you have a well-drained soil like a sandy soil or even a good loam, adding compost and incorporating it before planting your plants is beneficial. If you have clay, you should add generous amounts sand and compost. Then work it in to a depth of about a foot. You can also build up raised beds to increase the drainage.

Soil Fertility 

Most perennials like to have a well-balanced soil fertility that is not too high in nitrogen. Nitrogen is the first number in a fertilizer analysis. If too much nitrogen is present, the plant will grow taller than normal and plant supports may be necessary to keep the plant from falling over. High nitrogen can also delay flowering.

Selecting the Perennial

When purchasing a potted perennial, inspect it for disease and insect problems. The leaves should also be a nice green color if it is not a foliage color variant. Also inspect the root system so it is not too root bound. Being root bound may not be as much of a problem as you can correct that condition when planting.

Planting Your Perennials 

When you get the plants home, be sure they are kept in a semi-sunny area and well-watered. The soil in the pot is very well drained and needs to be watered daily. They should be planted when to soil is not saturated from excess rain. When the soil has dried out, enrich it with compost and sand if necessary. Remove the plant from the pot and inspect the root system. If there are a lot of roots near the outside of the pot, rake the roots with your fingers to loosen them from their root bound situation. If this is not done, the roots will not blast out into the soil and get established. It is good to water the plant in with a fertilizer solution to get the plant off to a good start.

Watering Your Newly Planted Perennial

The plant should be water well when planted with a fertilizer solution and then twice a week for a couple weeks until the plant is established. After that water once a week if there is no rain for a couple months and after that the plant should be on its own unless you have periods of hot weather with no rain.


Fertilizing your plant when planted is recommended to get it off to a good start. After that only fertilize when the plant leaves are not the color they are expected to be. Then in early fall an application of a well-balanced garden fertilizer would be beneficial to help the perennial get ready for winter. In early spring an application of garden fertilizer will also help the plant started growing for a great season of beauty.


Mulching perennials for the first winter is insurance to help it through the winter. The mulch should be placed on the plant after the soil is cold and should be clean hay, straw or marsh hay. Leaves do not make a good mulch as they don’t trap air, which will not protect them.


Growing Tips