Cassey Anderson, Master Gardener Coordinator in Adams County
This is a great time of the year to get a few new perennials in the garden. As a bonus many nurseries are having great sales at the moment!
I have been adding new garden bed space and reducing the lawn in my yard. This past spring I mulched with about 6” of arborists chips to prep this bed area (a silver lining to having had to remove many ash trees due to Emerald Ash Borer). This fall I decided that it’s ready to start filling it in. I purchased a Kniphofia flamenco (Red Hot Poker) and a Baptisia australis (False Indigo).
I started by determining where I wanted the plants. When planning locations for your perennials you want to consider the amount of sun that they need and will receive, how you will water them (no plant is xeric in its first year of establishment), and how exposed or protected the area is. In this area I've got drip lines running to each plant although I may run a secondary drip line with in-line emitters as I get more plants in the bed. Each of these plants takes full sun with glee and thankfully that is in abundance in this area!
Perennials establish best if you bare-root them. This means removing the potting media they were grown in. One of the easiest ways to bare-root your perennials is by soaking the plant in a bucket of water and gently teasing the soil out of the roots. Root washing helps ensure good soil to root contact and plants are more likely to establish quickly than if you leave them in the “cushy” media.
|This Kniphofia is nicely rooted and not pot-bound. |
|The Baptisia is a little pot-bound but root washing |
can rectify this for herbaceous perennials
One of the big differences you find when you bare-root your perennials is that the roots will get very long, so you may need to arrange your holes differently. You can tease the roots out to fill the space in the hole most effectively. That said, if your soil is in good condition you may not need to dig as big of a hole once you wash all the media off your roots.
|Look at those gorgeous roots making an appearance!|
|The roots on the Baptisia were SO long, |
I had to go get a shovel and dig a larger
hole to accommodate them.
|Getting the plant in place, tease the |
roots so they can spread out and
establish in the soil.
|Start to fill in gently around the |
roots with your native soil.