are some ideas to keep in mind when you're planning your gardens and
You have probably seen zone ratings in plant descriptions. What do
these mean, and how can they help you plan?
To help gardeners
choose plants, various systems for rating hardiness have been developed.
A plant is considered hardy in a region if it can grow and thrive
there without requiring special protective measures such as insulating
with straw mulch.
The USDA Hardiness
Zone Map divides the country into regions based on the average minimum
winter temperature. Always check the hardiness rating of a plant you
are considering, and compare it to the zone you're in. If you
live in USDA Zone 5 (minimum winter temperature -20 F), choose plants
that are rated to Zone 5 or lower. If you choose plants rated
to Zone 6 (-10 F) or higher, you may lose plants to freezing injury.
You may be able to grow plants
rated to one zone warmer than yours if you live in a particularly warm
spot, such as near a large body of water, or if you place the plants
in a sheltered spot where they're protected from strong winds. However,
if you are just starting out with perennials, why take the chance? Choose
plants that are reliably hardy.
ratings indicate a plant's ability to withstand cold winter
sunlight is your most important consideration. Choose plants that
are adapted to the light levels in your garden. Don't plant sun lovers
under dense trees, and don't plant shade lovers where they'll be exposed
to blazing mid-day sun. Plant descriptions give the light preferences
for plants, so take these to heart. You may be able to grow a sun
lover in partial shade, but you may get fewer flowers or weaker growth.
Place it in a spot where it can really shine!
plants adapted to the light levels in your garden.
for Continuous Bloom
perennial plants have a distinct bloom period, lasting anywhere from
a week to a month or more. Plant descriptions usually include an approximate
bloom time, such as "early summer" or "autumn."
A few will describe certain plants as continuous bloomers, but even
these usually have a period of peak bloom. When planning your garden,
consider bloom times carefully. If you mistakenly choose all early
summer bloomers, you may be disappointed when there's only foliage
in your garden from midsummer on.
take some time to get established. You may get a few flowers in the
first season, depending on the size of the plant you've purchased,
but you'll need to wait a season or two for the real show to begin.
Plan to add some annual flowers to your new perennial beds to carry
you through the first growing season.
nicely with a perennial salvia.
||Content provided by our partners at
NationalGardening.com, the online publisher of the National Gardening Association.