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The Best Types of Perennials for Beautiful Spring Planters

by Guest Post on Dec 13, 2011

That familiar chill is in the air, turning a gardener's thoughts to autumn gardening tasks. This year, as you cut back perennials and over-blanket with mulch, why not plant new perennials, as well, to enjoy next spring and summer? Late summer into early autumn is a wonderful time to fill planters and pots with perennials, and here are some reasons why (and some suggestions for the best types of perennials for planters, as well).

Planting in Autumn is Good for Perennials

Fall planting gives perennials a head start over those established in spring. Fewer insects are around to torment or damage plants in the fall. As well, autumn soil still holds heat from lovely summer days, and, during temperate fall days and nights, perennials can set down strong, healthy roots before frost arrives. By spring, root systems will be firmly established, and top growth will be vigorous and healthy.

Planting in Autumn is Good for You

We, like the earth around us, naturally slow down in autumn, as do our schedules. Fall days are perfect for puttering in the garden and settling new perennials into containers. Come the rush of spring gardening tasks, you'll be glad you planned ahead. Fall planting has the advantage of hindsight, too: With a vision of your garden and yard fresh in your mind, you will know which perennials to settle into bare spots and which shapes and colors will best accent the vignette of planters along your walkway.

Perennials Are Well Priced Late in the Season

As nurseries prepare for stocking seasonal winter bulbs and plants, they often significantly mark down remaining perennials. While fall's selection may be less than spring's, this is balanced by the attention you will receive from the unhurried, relaxed staff. Just be sure to choose plants that are hardy, healthy, and bug-free, and are good types of perennials for planters.

Tips for Fall Planting of Perennials

Follow these tips for perennials that will be healthy and happy come spring.

  • Choose and place containers carefully. As your new perennials will be over-wintering in outdoor planters, opt for frost-resistant, sturdy pots. Best container choices for your perennials are plastic, wood, stone, fiberglass, resin, cement, or teak planters, hanging pots, and window boxes. To protect perennials during wintry months, use large containers with lots of protective soil around roots, move containers to sheltered spots, and cluster pots together, with more fragile plants in the middle of the groupings.
  • Plant for your zone. To be sure that potted perennials come safely through the winter, consider choosing plants that are hardy in one or two planting zones colder than your own.
  • Plan your containers. Take a few moments to plot your planters. Consider spacing - check the instructions that accompany each perennial to ensure it is nicely spaced and well placed. Consider the size - larger and taller plants (like poppies, dwarf coneflowers or columbines, anemones, tall ornamental grasses, or daylilies) are better behind their smaller cousins (such as dwarf or heritage veronica, campanula, and smaller chrysanthemums) so you'll be able to see and delight in each perennial. Also, consider shape - balance breadth (phlox, hosta, lady's mantle, and coreopsis, for example) with height, to give interest to the container. Choosing colors that suit and please you is essential, too. Envision, as well, your planters within your gardening plans and goals. Plant what you love, but prepare ahead to enjoy your pots and perennials to the fullest.
  • Plant with Care. When transplanting your perennials, cut plants back after they have flowered, and then move to a planter. If you are purchasing perennials, water thoroughly in original containers, loosen or gently cut bound roots, and plant to the same depth as the container. Be sure to read the plant's instructions for any special needs or suggestions. Water (without soaking) regularly until frost sets in, but don't add any fertilizer until spring. Mulch the soil (and even the sides of the containers) to protect over-wintered potted perennials and, for the coldest of climes, wrap your containers (or container clusters) in plastic, burlap, or old, warm blankets or quilts, and then secure the wrap with twine.
  • Plan to plant by six to eight weeks before the first hard frost. Giving perennials enough time in their new pots before winter sets in will help to establish healthy and strong root systems.

Even though the fall chill maybe nipping your nose, resist the cocooning urge for just a while longer. Autumn is such a good time to plant perennials for the coming spring, and your healthy, fall-planted perennial plants will show their thanks by blossoming beautifully next year.

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