Winter Garden – Perennials

Most perennials become dormant in winter, although there are a special few that hold their leaves or flower (See perennials and grasses for winter interest.) For the gardener, winter is a time to plant new bare-rooted perennials, tidy up existing plants and bring on new plants for the growing season ahead.

Winter is a time to:

  • Plant bare-rooted perennials such as lily-of-the-valley. There is a tempting range available from online sellers but for best results choose suppliers who are local or share a similiar regional climate to yours.
  • In late winter buy and pot up young plants or ‘plugs’. Grow then on in a cold frame or an unheated greenhouse.
  • Group pot-grown plants together in a sheltered area of the garden to reduce the chance of their rootball freezing.
  • Tidy up early flowering, evergreen perennials such as bergenias and hellebores. Pick off old, dead foliage to keep the plants looking at their best.
  • In good weather when the ground is not frozen or water-logged prepare new borders for spring planting. Dig them over to two spade depths, incorporating plenty of well-rotted manure. At the same time, remove the roots of perennial weeds.
  • Remove and clean plant supports and store ready for spring.
  • In late winter, divide any summer-flowering perennials and herbaceous climbers that have formed large clumps.
  • Check new plants put in during the autumn and refirm any lifted by frost.
  • Divide pot-grown perennials that have outgrown their containers.
  • Take root cuttings of suitable perennials.
  • Occasionally water tender perennials that are overwintering under glass to keep the compost just moist. Check plants once a week and remove dead leaves and flowers that could become infected with botrytis.

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