5 Platinum Pick Perennials
We gardeners are an optimistic lot, always looking to the future. In the fall we bury daffodil and tulip bulbs for those first bright blooms and in the spring we plant for summer color. And one sure way to have lots of color is with perennials. Perennials are a good investment because they will bloom year after year. Mixing and matching compatible varieties that bloom during different stages of the season will bring color, pattern and texture to your garden all summer long.
Selecting Perennials for Your Garden
When choosing any plant for your garden there are three things you need to consider: your growing conditions, the nature of the plant and your personal tastes.
Know Your Growing Conditions - Before purchasing a plant, ask yourself a few questions about where it will ultimately end up. Is the spot sunny, shady or both? What's the soil like? Is area accessible to water? How much space is available? If you garden in containers, what size is the pot? What other plants are growing in the bed or container?
Know Your Taste - Gardening like art has less to do with what's right than what is right for you. Before you get started selecting plants decide on what appeals to you. What are your favorite colors? Is fragrance important? What about attracting wildlife? What's your style? Cottage, tropical, or modern?
Know the Perennial - Answering the above questions will help you match perennials with what your garden has to offer and your preferences. Every perennial has specific growing requirements - light, water and soil. Check the hardiness zone to make sure the plant will survive winter in your region. Plant tags will most often tell you all this information. You'll also want to know about the mature height, bloom or foliage color and if it has something of interest in more than one season.
Whether I'm facing a design quandary or difficult growing conditions, perennials often offer a solution.
Seasonal Groundcover - Many perennials make sensational groundcovers from spring through the first hard freeze. For sun consider reblooming varieties of daylilies or ornamental grasses. A drift of hosta or heuchera (coral bells) makes a stunning statement in shady areas.
Shady Spots - There is an A to Z selection of perennials you can grow in the shade. Hostas, columbine, oxalis are just a few. Plant in quantities of 3 to 5 to make a big impact. Select plants with variegation and contrasting textures to create interest.
Low Water - Once established many perennials are drought tolerant so you can have a beautiful garden without a lot of water. Bugleweed (ajuga), hummingbird mint (agastache), sedum, gaura, black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia), blanket flower (gaillardia), salvia sp., and veronica are just a few that will bloom and thrive in dry conditions.
Platinum Perennial Picks
This year I've added five perennials to my Proven Winners Platinum Collection. The perennials that I have selected for my Platinum Collection are my "that's the answer" plants, so called because they are never a problem and always a solution. Carefree and vigorous, you will find that these perennials will never let you down.
Daylily (Hemerocallis) 'Going Bananas' - 4-inch canary yellow flowers. Fragrant, blooms almost continuously from early summer to fall. 19 - 22 inches tall.
Daylily (Hemerocallis) 'Primal Scream' - Award winning variety with spectacular 7.5 - 8.5 inch, glimmering tangerine orange, gold dusted blossoms. It's a show stopper! 34 inches tall
Hosta 'Autumn Frost' - Blue leaves with wide, bright yellow margins mature to green with creamy white margins in summer. Medium size.
Leucanthemum superbum 'Banana Cream' - Huge - 5 inch wide flowers on plants that are just 15 - 18 inches tall. The flower open lemon yellow, brighten to light butter yellow and mature to creamy white. Blooms for most of the summer.
Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum) ‘Cheyenne Sky’ - A chameleon in the garden. Over the course of the summer the blue-green foliage turns wine red. By the beginning of fall the entire clump is drenched in color. The flower panicles are deep purple. Compact 3 foot height makes it easier to work into home gardens and combo containers.
Good to Know: End of Season Care
I receive many questions about what to do with perennials after the growing season. If you've selected plants that are winter hardy in your area, the answer is not much. After a hard freeze that sends the plants into dormancy cut back the dead foliage. Some gardeners leave it up until early spring to serve as winter interest and as a refuge for birds. Once the ground is frozen add a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch taking care to keep it away from the crown of the plant. Mulch will keep the soil from freezing and thawing, which may cause the roots to heave out of the ground. Keeping the mulch away from the crown prevents the roots from rotting. In the spring, pull the mulch back as new growth emerges.