You are here

Site Selection and soil preparation for perennials

Consider the site before selecting your plants. Although many perennials, such as ferns, tolerate heavy shade, most perennial plants require abundant sunshine. Air circulation is important for avoiding diseases; stagnant, warm, and humid air creates ideal conditions for diseases. Perennial plants also require properly prepared soil, and a few have specific drainage and fertility requirements.

Soil preparation for perennials is similar to soil preparation for annuals. However, you should devote some special attention to perennial bed preparation, because plants may occupy the site for several years with little opportunity to correct any problems. When possible, add sand and organic matter such as bark, peat, or compost to soils well ahead of planting time.

A layer of organic matter 3 or 4 inches deep, worked into the soil a shovel's depth, is usually adequate. Since different types of organic matter work and decompose at different rates in the soil, it is best to use a little of two or three kinds of organic matter than a lot of just one.

Soil testing provides specific recommendations for fertilizer and lime needs. Since lime lasts for several years depending on the type used, never add lime without a soil test. Many fertilizers, such as phosphorus, are best applied and mixed into soils before planting. Perennials need a balance of several nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash; most garden supply stores carry a wide variety of fertilizer mixes. Keep in mind that phosphorus, including that found in bone meal, lasts for several years and need not be applied regularly.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

News

Dozens of brightly colored flowers rise on long, slender stems from a mass planting in a flower bed.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens February 24, 2020

Zinnias are annual flowers that perform extremely well in our hot and humid Mississippi gardens and landscapes. In fact, home gardeners can have these beautiful flowers blooming from May all the way to frost in fall.

One group of zinnias that I can’t get enough of is the Zinnia elegans. These zinnias are the long-stemmed kind that are perfect for the cutting garden.

Slender, green seedlings grow in rows under lights in black trays marked by white tags.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens February 17, 2020

I’ve promoted the 2020 Mississippi Medallion winners Colorblaze coleus, beautyberry and Luscious lantana for the last three weeks. Now, I want to tell you about the fourth and final 2020 selection, Garden Gem tomato.

This will come as a surprise to the Southern Gardening Nation, but I think I’m starting to like eating fresh tomatoes. I’m certainly looking forward to picking fresh Garden Gem tomatoes this summer.

A bumblebee climbs on a single, pink-and-orange cluster of blooms.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens February 10, 2020

One of my favorite easy-care, flowering plants has to be lantana. This low-maintenance plant is highly tolerant of the hot, humid summers in our Mississippi gardens.

It’s no wonder that lantana has been selected as a Mississippi Medallion winner three times.

Small purple berries in clumps line branches with green leaves.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens February 3, 2020

Through February, I’m highlighting plants named 2020 Mississippi Medallion winners. Each of these winners is superbly adapted to our garden and landscape environment.

This week, I want to tell you about American beautyberry, a winner that is a native species found across the Southeast. It is known botanically as Callicarpa americana.

Maroon veins stand out on a sea of chartreuse leaves.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens January 27, 2020

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of introducing the 2020 Mississippi Medallion Winners at the Gulf States Hort Expo in Mobile, Alabama. This is a special group of selections, as the Mississippi Medallion program is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020.

The plants selected for 2020 include Colorblaze coleus, beautyberry, Luscious Series lantana and Garden Gem tomato.

Watch

Transplanting Shrubs
Southern Gardening

Transplanting Shrubs

Sunday, January 19, 2020 - 7:00am
Bromeliad Care
Southern Gardening

Bromeliad Care

Sunday, January 12, 2020 - 7:00am
Crape Murder
Southern Gardening

Crape Murder

Sunday, January 5, 2020 - 7:00am
Shishi Gashira
Southern Gardening

Shishi Gashira

Sunday, December 29, 2019 (All day)
Cool Season Combo Containers
Southern Gardening

Cool Season Combo Containers

Sunday, December 22, 2019 - 7:00am

Listen

Monday, February 24, 2020 - 7:00am
Friday, February 21, 2020 - 7:00am
Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 7:00am
Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 7:00am
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 7:00am

Contact Your County Office

Your Extension Experts

Portrait of Dr. Gary R. Bachman
Extension/Research Professor
Ornamental Horticulture Host of Southern Gardening