Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeLifestyleHome & Garden

Low maintenance flower beds: planting perennials


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

Low maintenance flower beds: planting perennials

Perennials provide colour every season and don’t require much attention. Yet they provide structure to your garden and offer years of pleasure.

Make life easier by preparing first

Clear the soil thoroughly of all weed roots and root segments when creating a herbaceous border.

Once the bed is established, it becomes difficult to get rid of these troublesome weeds without damaging other plants.


Long-lasting colourful borders

Perennial flowering plants come in many different shapes and sizes. They die back to ground level each autumn, growing back vigorously the following spring and flowering once again.

Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) unfurl their flowers while it is still winter and, in spring, primulas follow them. In spring, too, flowering bulbs such as snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses, scilla and daffodils enhance any herbaceous border.

The diverse varieties of phlox, bellflower (Campanula) and day lily (Hemerocallis) provide accents of colour from July until autumn, when the numerous varieties of yellow-flowering Rudbeckia grace the border for a rewardingly long period. And it is then that asters, sedums and chrysanthemums also come into their own.

Some early flowering perennials, such as bleeding heart (Dicentra), die back soon after flowering, leaving gaps in the border that can then be filled with summer bedding. Others, such as hostas and Heuchera, remain decorative after flowering, thanks to their foliage.


Herbaceous displays for every garden

There are perennials suitable for every type of garden, whether dry, sunny, shady or damp. Plant them together in borders according to flowering period, colour and size, so that they produce a pleasing show of blooms throughout the whole year.

Shade lovers will not thrive alongside sun worshippers, and plants preferring a dry situation will be susceptible to fungal diseases if planted in a damp location.

Remember, too, to include a variety of different flower shapes in a border as well as contrasting colours or combinations of similar tones.


A good supply of nutrients

Spring or autumn are the best times to plant a herbaceous border. Work compost or a slow-release fertiliser into the soil to provide vital nutrients, before you start planting. Divide the bed into smaller sections and choose plants for each area according to size, colour and flower shape.

Combining too many different varieties will make the border seem muddled, so restrict yourself to a handful of different plants, placing several of the same variety together. Position plants by height, with smaller ones in the foreground and taller ones at the back to ensure that the different varieties will be fully visible.


Mix and match

A cottage-style garden combines annuals and perennials. Here, pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis), phlox, snapdragons (Antirrhinum), echinacea and sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) create an informal riot of colour.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more gardening tips

Enjoyed this story? Share it!


*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.



This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit