Melinda's Gardening How To: Summer Care & Perennial Gardens

Perennial Care Tips

How to keep your perennial garden looking its best.

Invest time in midseason so you’ll be able to enjoy your beautiful perennial gardens now until the first snowfall.


What You Need
- Bypass pruners
- Hedge Shears
- Mulch
- Bamboo stakes, twigs or other supports
- Twine
- A bit of time



Deadheading: Removing faded flowers to:

- Improve the plants' appearance but does not extend bloom time (Bergenia, lamb's ear, peonies, perennial geraniums)
- Extend bloom time by encouraging additional flush of flowers (Bee balm, coral bells, daylilies, fringed bleeding heart, phlox, purple coneflowers, salvia, veronica,   yarrow)

How to Deadhead
- Cut spent flowers back to side shoots with flower buds or healthy leaves. (Coneflower, catmint, salvias, Shasta daisies, turtlehead, veronicas)
- Remove individual flowers on flowers cape (flower stem) as they fade. Once all the individual flowers have faded and deadheaded, remove the whole flower stem. (Daylilies and balloon flower)
- Prune the flower stem back to rosette of leaves at the base of the plant. (Coral bells, hosta, lamb's ear)
- Shearing is useful for plants with an abundance of small flowers (Creeping phlox, rock cress and threadleaf coreopsis) I prefer to dig and divide threadleaf coreopsis every few years to promote continuous bloom.

- Cut back plants to promote compact growth. Keep mums and asters to 6" throughout June; stop the beginning of July. Late summer and fall blooming perennials--complete pruning by the beginning of July.
- Manage flopping growth with perennials such as Walker's Low Catmint (Nepeta) when plants flop open.
- Cut back after flush of flowers to promote compact growth and additional bloom. (Salvias, veronicas)
- Thin overcrowded plants to increase light penetration and airflow.
- Ground Level Pruning (Bleeding heart and other perennials) that dieback mid season.

Dead leafing
- Remove or trim back discolored foliage, allowing the flowers to remain the center of attention.

Stake plants in need of support
- Stake flopping perennials to reduce disease and increase beauty.
- Although its always best to put stakes and supports in place as plants emerge in spring, you can still add a bit of support mid season. Use bamboo stakes and ties, twigs woven into stems or other attractive or virtually invisible stakes.
- Mark next year's calendar to remind you to put stakes in place in spring as plants emerge.

- Spread a thin layer of shredded leaves, evergreen needles, twice shredded bark or other organic material over the soil surface.
- Mulch conserves moisture, suppresses weeds, keeps roots cool during hot weather and improves the soil as it decomposes.

Weed: Continue to remove weeds throughout the season by:
- By removing weeds before they form seeds, this will eliminate hundreds of weeds in next year's garden.
- Reducing the risk of insects and disease, as some weeds attract pests and serve as a host for diseases that can damage your perennials.
- Eliminating competition with perennials for water an nutrients. 

Plant: Add perennials or annuals to fill voids or mask declining spring bloomers.
- Water new plantings often enough to keep the roots moist for the first few weeks.
- Eventually switch to thorough, less frequent waterings to encourage deep, drought-tolerant roots.
- Mulch the soil to keep roots cool and moist.


Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!