Fauquier/Rappahannock County
 Master Gardeners
Perennials
Frequently Asked Questions

What should be considered when selecting what perennials to grow? 
Consider aspects of the site that will affect plant growth such as light, soil characteristics and topography. Different perennials perform well in full sun, light shade, or heavy shade. The slope of the site may affect temperature and drainage. Soil texture, drainage, fertility and ph influence plant performance. 

What should I look at when selecting a plant? 
Select plants with a purpose in mind, such as edging, accents for evergreens, masses of color, rock garden specimens, etc. You can then choose each perennial by considering their characteristics and decide which best meet your needs.

How long do most perennials bloom? 
Perennials have a limited blooming period of about 2 to 3 weeks. So pay attention to the bloom time when selecting your perennials, if continuous color is desired. 

When should I plant my perennials? 
Generally, late summer or fall-flowering perennials are planted in the spring,while spring flowering perennials are planted in the late summer early fall. It is best to check on the planting date of a specific perennial. Sufficient time should be allowed for the plants to establish themselves before blooming or the onset of cold weather.
 
Should I mulch my perennials? 
Mulch helps maintain uniform soil moisture, and aids in the prevention of weeds. Perennials should also be mulched during the winter months to protect them from the heaving that results from repeated freezing and thawing of the soil. Apply only after several killing frosts and be careful not to pile mulch heavily over crowns.

Do my perennials need Deadheading (removing old flowers)? 
After blooming, spent flowers should be removed. Cut flowers stems down to a healthy leaf, or to the ground if there are no more buds. This will keep your garden neat and prevent plants from wasting energy setting seed. 

Do I need to fertilize my perennials? 
Regular fertilizing is necessary. A light fertilization program gives a continuous supply of nutrients to produce healthy plants. 

Is there special fall care for perennials?
In the fall, after the foliage has died down, remove dead leaves, stems and spent flowers. These materials often harbor insects and disease-causing organisms. Apply mulch after the soil temperature has dropped.

How do I control pests and diseases?
It is advisable to select disease resistant varieties. Plant in conditions of light, wind, spacing, and soil textures which are suited to them. Remove spent flowers and dead leaves, and other plant litter. Know the common pests and diseases of each specific plant selected so that there is correct diagnosis and early treatment.

When do I divide my perennials?
Most perennials left on the same place for 3 years, most likely are over crowded, have dead centers with no growth, and need fertilizer and soil amendments. Divide perennials when they are dormant, just before a new season of growth or in the fall.

How do I divide my perennials? 
Discard the dead center of the clump. Divide the plant into clumps with three to five shoots each, be careful not to over divide. Too small a clump will not give much color the first year after re-planting.