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Page: 12/26

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63. Perennials and Annuals

When you are planning out a garden it is important to decide how much time you want to spend in your garden and what kinds of plants you want to have in your garden. Letís discuss the differences a little more in detail so you can make the choice that is right for your and your garden!

Most perennials are easy to grow, require little maintenance, and are usually reasonably priced. You can find annuals and perennials just about anywhere to include nurseries and even retail chains stores. A perennial is defined as any plant that lives longer than two years. Although not quite in the same category, trees and shrubs are perennial plants, but when people talk about perennials they are usually referring to flowers.

Annuals are plants that only live one season. These are usually smaller plants with vivid color. However, the advantage of perennials over annuals is that you have much less maintenance and cost.

Annuals can be from seeds or already bloomed plants. Nevertheless, either way, the cycle remains the same. You plant them, maintain them, they die at the end of the season; you pull up the dead plant, and start over again next year. With perennials, you plant them once, maintain them, and enjoy them year after year.

Perennials spread quickly and can be used both as primary plant and as fillers. The other great thing about perennials is that year after year, you will get more blooms and more color. Young perennials do not usually bloom at all the first year. However, the second year you will be shocked at the abundance of colorful blooms that will brighten your garden.

There are five basics to follow in getting started.

Choose the right location. If this is a new area, try to use a site that offers partial to full sun.

Choose the appropriate plants. Evaluate both soil type and sun exposure and make your plant choices based on that information. Refer back to your USDA Zone map.

Get your soil prepared. Because perennials will be in the same soil for many, many years, it is extra important to first prepare the soil before planting. In most cases, perennials prefer rich, loose, loamy soil with a lot of organic matter.

Place your plants properly. Carefully follow the instructions provided with your new plant purchase. After placing the plant in the soil, you will want to water them well.

Extra care for the first year for first time plants in your garden. No, you do not need to talk to them daily, unless you really want to. But during the first season after planting new plants, it is usually a good idea to add healthy mulch made from organic material for these new plants. Do not pile the mulch directly up against the plants; keep the mulch about two inches away.

Be diligent in providing new plants with a lot of water, if there is no rain. I usually give my plants a good, deep watering about once a week will do the trick. In addition, if you have any questions Ė ask. Ask the seed companies, the local retailers you know, or the home center where this type of plant is sold.

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