Potting perennials

Three approaches to low-care planting

Potting perennials

Meadow rue

Thomas J. Story

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You get a wonderful feeling when the potted perennials you've been ignoring all winter start to reappear in spring. Just when you've given up hope that new life will somehow spring forth from those clumps of strawlike twigs, fresh green growth appears, followed by robust stems, beautiful flowers, and a long summer show.

It's the cycle of life and the seasons, being played out in a pot. And it's one of the joys of the low-care plantings pictured here, designed for beauty and simplicity.

Many perennials will come back pretty reliably for several years in the same container. You can grow them singly, pair a couple of compatible growers, or plant a medley of three or more comeback kids whose colors and textures complement one another.

For the first two years in pots, the perennials shown here need little care beyond watering, clipping spent blooms, and feeding (controlled-release fertilizer at the start of growing seasons works well).

But by the third or fourth year, mixed plantings can begin to appear crowded. Autumn is a good time to divide them.

Plant tall perennials (2 to 4 feet) in deep pots (at least 18 inches diameter and about 20 inches deep). Put low growers in wide bowls at least 8 inches deep.

 

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