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Give Perennials Some Love and More Leg Room

Perennial plants are relatively care-free additions to the garden. They come up every year growing bigger and better. But, believe it or not, they can actually get too big. The new shoots and roots get crowded, the stems in the center can die off or the foliage may turn yellow. They’ll produce fewer and smaller flowers. These are all signs that your perennials need to be divided.

Dividing your perennials has benefits that go beyond plant health. With all of your new divisions you can increase their footprint in the bed they’re in or plant them out to enliven other perennial borders. Sharing them with friends and neighbors is always appreciated. Maybe they’ll share with you.  Who doesn’t love free plants?

When to Divide Perennials

A general rule of thumb is that perennials should be divided about every three or four years. Like all rules, there are exceptions. Some very vigorous growers like gooseneck loosestrife may need to be divided every year or two. Others, like peonies don’t like to be disturbed at all. When to divide is a frequently asked question. Spring flowering perennials are best divided in the fall and fall blooming plants should be divided in the spring. Naturally, there are exceptions. Many people in cold climates do all of their dividing in the spring because plants don’t have a chance to reestablish themselves before freezing weather hits in the autumn.

Rules are made to be broken, given enough TLC before, during and after dividing, you can do it whenever it best suits you as long as the ground is not frozen. The advantages of spring and fall division is that weather conditions are usually cool and wet. This reduces the chances of your plants becoming stressed and dehydrated during the process.

How to Divide Perennials

Prep Perennials

Water the perennials you intend to divide the day before you’ll actually divide them. This makes it easier to get them apart and helps guard against the roots drying out. It’s also a good idea to prepare the new bed they’ll be going into so that the plants’ roots spend the least amount of time above ground. This is also the best time to incorporate Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus into the soil. It will help the plants grow bigger, healthier roots and also helps them to establish more quickly.

Divide the Plants

Grab some gloves and a spade and let’s start dividing. Use the spade to cut a ring all the way around the plant to be divided and then pry it up. Depending on the size of the plant or the root depth, you may need to use a trench shovel. Holding the root ball over a wheelbarrow, gently loosen the soil around the roots. Using a plant knife, an old kitchen knife or spade, divide the root ball the best you can leaving as many roots as possible intact. If there a lot of top growth on the plant, cut it back to about 6 inches so it is in balance with the disturbed root system.

Relocate

Place the divided sections in their new locations and the divided plant back where it came from. Back fill with soil, making sure the top of the root ball is at the same level it was previously. Water deeply. And, continue watering well every few days for the first couple of weeks, then you can taper off. Your plant might look a little sad and droopy at first. Don’t worry, it will need a couple of weeks to recover and then everything will be fine. After your plants have established themselves feed with Espoma’s Organic Plant-Tone.

Want more perennials? Check out these powerhouse perennials that work overtime…so you don’t.

Espoma Products for Dividing Perennials

Webinar: Powerhouse Perennials That Work Overtime… So You Don’t

The Espoma Company is excited to sponsor an exciting new webinar – Powerhouse Perennials That Work Overtime… So You Don’t  — on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 11 AM EST.

Kerry Ann Mendez, author of The Right Size Flower Garden, will share tips to help all levels of gardeners make gardening a little bit easier. Mendez is an expert in all things gardening, a nationally renowned speaker and an acclaimed author of three popular gardening books. She also hosts in-person lectures nationwide.

The webinar features superhero perennials for sun and shade, ranging in hardiness from Zones 3 – 9.  Many natives (and nativars) as well as new introductions are included. Attendees will learn about top-rated sources for these plants, including local garden centers.

In addition, the webinar offers detailed lecture notes and a free replay. Master Gardeners and Landscape Architects can also fill out and submit a form for continuing education credit hour approval.

Included with the webinar are detailed lecture notes that complement the presentation.

You do not need to be present for the live webinar on January 26 at 11 AM. All participants will receive a download link for the lecture following the presentation. That way you can watch and listen to it at your convenience and replay all or parts of it on demand.

The registration fee for this webinar lecture is $12.

For more about Kerry Ann and her business Perennially Yours, visit www.pyours.com.

Plant Perennials for Easy Curb Appeal

Summer is a great time to spruce things up, giving you the chance to make your home feel warm and welcoming.

If you want to add curb appeal or if your yard just seems a bit bare, plant perennials that will come back year after year. Look for them in many different colors, heights, and forms.

Before planting, evaluate your space for the amount of sun and shade it gets. Check to make sure the perennials you’re selecting will thrive in your space.

Here are our top six picks for the prettiest perennials.

The Best Perennials For Summer Curb Appeal:

1. Hydrangeas. There are endless options of these bright bloomers to choose from. Pick a spot where hydrangeas will get afternoon sun and be sure to water daily. For bright blue hydrangeas, you’ll need to perfect the soil’s pH level. Use Espoma’s Soil Acidifier for best results. Zones 4-9.

2. Black-eyed Susan. Black-eyed Susan blooms from midsummer to fall and always makes a strong comeback in spring. This vigorous bloomer is also a favorite of pollinators. These flowers grow best in full sun, but will tolerate partial sun as well. Zones 3-9.

3. Aster. The lovely pink or lavender blooms attract a wide range of late-season butterflies and beneficial insects. Position purple asters against a white picket fence or light colored background for a look that pops. Zone 4-8.

4. Daylillies. Daylilies are just as hardy as they are colorful. Blooming from early spring to late summer, these perennials make the perfect border or road-side addition. Since soil near roads and walkways tends to be in need of a boost, make sure to plant with Espoma’s liquid Start! plant food.

5. Hostas. Choose Hostas for their never-ending display of colorful summer foliage. You’ll find these perennials at your local garden center in a wide variety of colors, shapes and patterns. Plant under trees, near shrubs, or near your home. Hostas prefer shade, but some varieties do well in sun. Zones 3-9.

6. Sedum. One of the most dependable perennials you can grow, varieties of sedum will quickly establish themselves in any sunny spot. These creeping ground covers and low-maintenance plants will also attract pollinators. Zones 3-9.

Once you’ve chosen your perennials, all that’s left to do is plant. To get your best perennials yet, use Espoma’s new liquid Bloom! plant food.

Create Spring Containers that Wow

What’s better than walking outside in the morning to fresh air and sunshine? Walking outside to find fresh air, sunshine and a beautiful container filled with spring blooms.

Refresh your porch or patio by adding a spring container. Get started by finding the perfect planter. There are tons of fun colors and patterns to choose from. Or get creative and use an unexpected object.

Check to make sure the container has drainage holes at the bottom and you’re good to go. We recommend using Espoma’s organic potting mix to fill the container and then mixing in Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus with the soil to give it that extra oomph.

Once nighttime temperatures remain above freezing, not dipping below, 30°F, you’re reading to plant.

Read on for our top plant choices to fill your containers with this spring.

Primrose container

Pick Lovely Perennials

English daisies, hellebores, pansies, primroses and bergenia make for good choices for early perennials.  Find out if a plant can’t tolerate the cool temperatures of early spring by referencing the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

Splendid indoor floral arrangement at botanical garden in spring

Go for Classic Spring Blooms

It’s OK if you didn’t plant spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips and daffodils in the fall. Just stop by your local garden center to pick up already-blooming bulbs and pop them into your container for an instant pick me up.

Hydrangea container

Stock up on Hydrangeas

Certain dwarf varieties of hydrangeas can really pack a punch when paired with a decorative container. Scroll through our Hydrangea Variety Guide to find the right dwarf hydrangea for you. Then, find a spot that matches the amount of light they need.

If you want to grow blue hydrangeas, mix in Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier. For pink hydrangeas, add Espoma’s Organic Garden Lime. Then fill planter with potting soil, and plant the hydrangea at the same height it was previously growing.

 

Looking for a different spring project? Learn how to make these easy paint can succulent containers.

Why Fall is the Best Time to Plant Perennials

This month we’ve covered fall gardening basics, how to plant cool-season veggies and fall planted bulbs. If you’re starting to wonder what you can’t plant in the fall, the answer is almost nothing.

We’re going to help you get a head start on spring by planting perennials in the fall. Perennials, those plants that return each year, provide a low-maintenance way to have a beautiful, colorful garden. Your garden will take on a life of its own as the perennials continue to expand year after year.

Perennials, those plants that return each year, provide a low-maintenance way to have a beautiful, colorful garden.

While fall is for planting, Al’s Garden Center still has a few tricks that will ensure your plants look their best in that first season.

Plant Fall Perennials in 8 Steps

  1. Start by preparing the soil. Dig out rocks, weeds and other debris.
  2. Dig a hole deep enough for the root ball and twice as wide.
  3. Gently remove plant from pot and gently loosen roots.
  4. Mix in 3 inches of compost or other organic matter.
  5. Remove the plant from its pot and loosen roots before planting. Place plant in hole and backfill the hole with a good quality garden soil.
  6. Water immediately. Cover the planting area with a natural mulch of bark or straw. Mulch keeps soil moist and protects new roots from freezing.
  7. Finish by adding an organic plant food such as Espoma’s Start!
  8. Water at least 1 inch per week until the ground freezes. This keeps roots growing and helps plants get established before winter dormancy.

Fall Perennial Plant Picks

  1. Choose perennials that add color to your garden in early spring such as hellebore and astilbe.
  2. Plant or transplant spring-blooming power-house shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas.Perennials, those plants that return each year, provide a low-maintenance way to have a beautiful, colorful garden.
  3. Choose pollinator friendly plants such as phlox, coneflower and aster. You can plant, divide or transplant.
  4. Divide and replant hostas and daylilies. Learn more about dividing perennials.
  5. Peonies should always be planted or transplanted in the fall. Plant 2 inches above the root ball.
  6. Plant and transplant irises, Asiatic and Oriental lilies.

Have a question we didn’t answer? Visit our Facebook page and ask us!

Al’s Garden Center is a third generation owned and operated local family business.  Established in Woodburn, OR in 1948, Al’s is now the largest full-service independent garden center in the Willamette Valley.  Through its three retail stores, Al’s provides an extensive selection of plants, plant care essentials, garden accessories, outdoor furniture and home décor.