Perennial plants are the backbone of every successful landscape and garden border. They are available in a wide range of sizes, colors and blooming seasons. Perennials grow and bloom over the spring and summer and then die back every autumn and winter, then return in the spring, bigger and better with every passing season. Typically, they grow from their root stock rather than seeding themselves as anannual plant does. These are known as herbaceous perennials. However, depending on the rigors of local climate, a plant that is a perennial in its native habitat, or in a milder garden, may be treated by a gardener as an annual and planted out every year, from seed, from cuttings or from divisions.
June has been designated National Perennial Plant Month. There are wide selections of perennials that may be planted in June. It is a good time for the gardener to find more mature specimens of favorite summer bloomers at the garden center. It is also a good time to plan and plant a sequential summer perennial display of old-favorites and new cultivars. There are many spectacular flowering performers for the sultry summer season.
Some of the more popular perennial plant categories include Hosta, Daylily, Iris, Echinacea, Peony, Ferns, Grasses, Phlox, Heuchera, Astilbe and many more. Each genus can contain literally thousands of specific varieties. Part of the joy of gardening with perennial plants is discovering new plant introductions from family, friends and our knowledgeable staff.
Three tips for growing perennials.
1. Planting and spacing: Perennials can be planted throughout the year, but perform best when planted in the spring and fall. Careful attention should be paid to the mature height and spread of each plant. Refer to the care and culture tag on each plant, or ask one of our staff for more information.
2. Watering: Perennials need water to establish them when first planted. Water them deeply two to three times a week after planting. The moist soil will encourage good growth. For the best show of color all summer, don’t let up on the watering. After the second or third season they should survive on the strength of seasonal precipitation. Mulching your perennials will help with moisture retention and reduce weeding. Take care not to bury the crowns as that might lead to rot.
3. Feed your plants: You can feed your newly planted perennials as you would an annual. You should feed weekly with a water soluble fertilizer, or add a time-release fertilizer when planting. You’ll find traditional or organic fertilizers – either will do the job. One good organic is fish emulsion, and your perennials will grow even better if you top dress with compost.
Finally, perennials can be divided seasonally. While some varieties have long tap roots, most are clump forming like Hosta, Daylily and most Daisy types such as Echinacea and Rudbeckia. The best time for taking divisions would be early spring and fall. Water in well and treat as you would a new plant.
Proper selection and placement of perennial plants can result in a sequence of blooms that can stretch from early spring to late fall. Make plans now to visit the garden center for best selection, plus the right advice to make the most of your selections.
Perennials for Sun:
Perennials for Shade:
An herb is any plant used whole or in part as an ingredient for health, flavor, or fragrance. Herbs can be used to make teas; perk up cooked foods such as meats, vegetables, sauces, and soups; or to add flavor to vinegars, butters, dips, or mustards. Many herbs are grown for their fragrance and are used in potpourris, sachets, and nosegays; or to scent bath water, candles, oils, or perfumes. More than 25% of our modern drugs contain plant extracts as active ingredients, and researchers continue to isolate valuable new medicines from plants and confirm the benefits of those used in traditional folk medicine.
Herbs as a group are relatively easy to grow. Begin your herb garden with the herbs you enjoy using the most. For example, choose basil, oregano, and fennel for Italian cooking; lavender and lemon verbena for making potpourri; or chamomile, peppermint, and blue balsam mint if you plan to make your own teas.
The optimum growing conditions vary with each individual herb species. Some of the herbs familiar to North Americans, such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, bay laurel, marjoram, dill, and oregano are native to the Mediterranean region. These herbs grow best in soils with excellent drainage, bright sun, and moderate temperatures.
When growing herbs follow these basic guidelines:
- Plant herbs in average garden soil with organic matter added to improve texture and drainage.
- Choose a site that receives at least 6 hours of direct sun each day.
- Avoid ground where water stands or runs during heavy rains.
- Compensate for poor drainage with raised beds amended with compost.
- Apply balanced fertilizers sparingly to leafy, fast-growing herbs. Heavy applications of fertilizer, especially those containing large amounts of nitrogen, will decrease the concentration of essential oils in the lush green growth.
Plan your herb garden by grouping herbs according to light, irrigation, and soil requirements. Most herbs enjoy full sun, but a few tolerate shade. Herbs can be classified as either annual, biennial, or perennial. Be aware of the growth habits of the plants before you purchase them. Some herbs, such as borage, anise, caraway, chervil, coriander, cumin, dill, and fennel, should be direct-seeded, because they grow easily from seed or do not transplant well. Other herbs, such as mints, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and tarragon, should be purchased as plants and transplanted or propagated by cuttings to ensure production of the desired plant (do not come true from seeds).
Herbs and Vegetables at Schmitt’s Family Farms on Bagatelle Road. Schmitt’s Family Farms is a garden center and greenhouse that grows herb and vegetable plants for home gardens.
Schmitt’s Family Farms
6 Bagatelle Road
Dix Hills, NY 11746
if using GPS, use Huntington Station
A true annual is a plant that completes its life cycle in one year. This means it goes from seed to seed and then dies off, during the course of one growing season. The whole mission of an annual is to produce seed and propagate. That’s why deadheading or removing spent flowers before the seed matures, produces more flowers and therefore more potential seed.
Some tender perennials are grown as annuals in colder climates. For a perennial to be worth growing as an annual, it must flower profusely in its first year of growth. Pansies, lantana and alyssum are all actually tender perennials.
There are also plants considered to be hardy annuals. This just means that they are able to withstand a little frost without being killed off and will continue to bloom and set seed into the next year, but they will eventually expire.
Annuals can be further divided into cool season and warm season. Pansies will fade as the summer heats up. Zinnias won’t even get moving until the nights stay warm.
Annual flowers give you the opportunity to have a totally different garden every year. At Schmitt’s Family Farms at Bagatelle Road we grow a great selection of annuals.
Three tips for growing annuals…
1. Planting and spacing: Plant transplants closely so they fill in quickly. Usually, the tag will say to plant 8 to 12 inches apart, so pick 8 inches for a great show of flowers more quickly. I actually take a ruler into the garden, or measure off the spacing with my trowel. If the plants are a bit pot-bound (roots circling around), cut an X into the bottom with a knife or use your fingers to tease them apart so they make better contact with soil.
2. Watering: Annuals need water to thrive. Water them deeply two to three times a week after planting. The moist soil will encourage good growth. For the best show of color all summer, don’t let up on the watering.
3. Feed your plants: Once a week, feed your plants with a balanced all-purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer that you mix with water. You’ll find traditional or organic fertilizers – either will do the job. One good organic is fish emulsion, which I like to mix together with a kelp-based fertilizer. Your annuals will grow even better if you mix some compost or manure into your soil before you plant.
Sun loving plants:
New Guinea Impatiens
Sweet Potato Vine
Albert H. Schmitt Family Farms has been a family farm for many decades. The current business is a compilation of Albie and Dottie Schmitt. They have been married over 50 years and farming together ever since. They each from long lines of farmers – the Schmitt’s have been farming here since 1853. Dottie Schmitt’s, maiden name – Harbes, family has been farming on Long Island for more than a century. Together they still keep their business growing with their 3 children and their grandchildren. Located on 6 Bagatelle Road, the original crop was potatoes. As the Long Island Expressway came through, it cut the farm in half. Eventually, development muscled in on the farm. Still in all, farming is still maintained by the propagation of annuals and perennials in a business that started with a small greenhouse to the current greenhouse menagerie today.
Send a message to Albert H. Schmitt Family Farms on Bagatelle Road in Dix Hills, NY.