Hardy herbaceous perennials make a fantastic display in summer and they’re great value for money too as they return year after year, getting bigger and better each time.
Growing perennials in an herbaceous border is really simple but it does require a little thought beforehand to ensure that it continues to look good in future years.Follow our 5 step guide to get the best from your perennial borders.
The first step is to assess your chosen site. Hardy perennials all have their own little characters - some like blazing sun while others prefer shady spots. Some need a damp soil while others like it drier. It’s always tempting to buy plants based on their appearance, but it pays to show some restraint and select only the plants that will enjoy growing in the conditions that you can provide.
Try to select a range of plants that will have varying heights. You’ll need some taller plants such as Delphiniums that can be positioned towards the back of the border, while lower growing plants like Gaillardia will sit nicely at the front. In between you can put mid height perennials like Echinacea, Poppies and Scabious. This helps to give the border a nice structure and ensures that all of your plants are visible.
The next step is to prepare the garden border by digging over the soil and mixing in some well rotted compost to get your plants off to a good start. This will improve the structure and drainage of the soil as well as feeding the perennial plants while they establish.
Before you start planting, always lay your hardy perennial plants out first. Try to think how big they will get in future years and give them enough space to grow. It’s a good idea to position plants in groups of three of the same kind to give the appearance of a larger clump. It’s not essential but it does look better than dotting them about randomly. If you have plenty of one type then repetition of these groups will add symmetry to you border design.
Once you’re happy with their positions you can plant them. Tease out the roots a little before you put them in the ground as this will help them to establish. Always plant them at the same level depth as they were when growing in the pot. And don’t forget to water them in afterwards.
You’ll need to keep your perennial border well watered until the plant roots have grown and they are capable of finding their own water. Once established, these hardy perennial plants will fill this border with summer colour, year after year.
To find out how to use perennial plants in other areas of the garden, head over to our perennial hub page.
Plants and gardens have always been a big part of my life. I can remember helping my Dad to prick out seedlings, even before I could see over the top of the potting bench. As an adult, I trained at Writtle College where I received my degree, BSc. (Hons) Horticulture. After working in a specialist plantsman's nursery, and later, as a consulting arboriculturalist, I joined Thompson & Morgan in 2008. Initially looking after the grounds and coordinating the plant trials, I now support the web team offering horticultural advice online.