We love those verdant mounding flowering perennials and their clumps of green foliage. Gush over all those gorgeous blooms throughout the spring or summer. But they don’t quite look so lush and healthy by late summer and fall. It’s this time of year, right after a frost, that Nature Hills gets flooded with upset and frantic calls from worried customers and novice gardeners.
“Help! My perennials are dead!”
Nature Hills Nursery is here to calm your worries and fears and assure you that those Perennials live up to their name and will return once again in the spring! Bigger and better than before!
All tender perennial plants, early-blooming perennials, and spring bulbs go dormant as soon as the winter's chill seeps into the air and into the ground. Even sending trees, and shrubs into dormancy as well, however, some perennial foliage does it with far less colorful fanfare. Their leaves are instead lush and green one moment, then dead-looking after that overnight frost.
Tender and herbaceous perennials have high water content in their stems and leaves, and very little to no lignin - which enhances plant cell wall rigidity and makes stems woody and more durable as is how it is in shrubs and trees. That fleshy foliage means that after one frost, your Astilbe are yellowing or already dried and tan, Hostas look limp like the lettuce you forgot about in the back of the fridge, Daylilies are sprawled out all over the ground like cooked spinach, and your Bleeding Hearts and Columbines may have been MIA since that August heat wave.
It’s a completely natural process and happens every year, give or take a few weeks because of Ma Natures' fickle temperament. Many varieties of Perennials and spring ephemerals planted in cooler and hot growing zones alike almost melt with the onset of warmer weather. They enter a summer dormancy period during the intense heat, only to return when things cool off again.
Unfortunately, there are few evergreen perennial plants available unless you live in a frost-free warm winter climate. All we can hope for is an early snowfall to cover the entire garden crime scene up for the winter!
Since fall is a great time to plant trees, shrubs, spring-flowering bulbs, and perennials alike, and if temperatures allow, Nature Hills is still shipping plants throughout the country. But even these perennials, like Bleeding Hearts, that ship out of our colder region nurseries are arriving having already had their fall haircuts and their fleshy, tender foliage ‘missing’.
But fear not, there’s still a healthy, thriving, albeit sleeping root system alive and well in that pot of dirt that just arrived at your doorstep.
Rest assured, your herbaceous Perennials are going to come back with the spring's warmth to start over again! Your plants have been growing and blooming all growing season and deserve a much-needed rest and vacation after all their hard work! For now, all we can do is give them the support they need to sleep safely and erupt into spring bigger and better than ever before!
The key to ensuring your Perennial's survivability over the winter is to first have selected hardy plants rated for your USDA Hardiness Zone. Hopefully, you have watered them religiously during their first growing season so they didn’t dry out and now have a sizeable root system beneath the ground. Lastly, you’ve ensured your Perennials enjoyed a midsummer application of fertilizer. Once fall arrives all you have left to do is give them a little TLC in their convalescence.
Gardeners in hot climates will notice their Bleeding Hearts and other tender early-blooming Perennials, as well as spring ephemerals, all take a break once the summer sun reaches its peak. Dying back during summer dormancy to escape the hot sun and the stress of drought and temperatures. Again, completely normal, especially during a drought.
Since most herbaceous Perennials like Bleeding Hearts, die back completely to the ground, it can be difficult to know where they are in the garden, so many folks mark their perennials with flags, painted stones, a plant name tag or other types of garden marker, even using colorful glass pebbles glued onto golf tee placed strategically by your perennial roots.
For plants to leave some stems behind, you can trim these back to a few inches and let their buzz cut show you where they are in the landscape.
That way when the snows finally pass and you still have a bare spot in the garden, you don’t get ahead of yourself and accidentally dig up your late-emerging perennial to replace it!
For gardeners like myself, the end of the growing season can be a sad time of year but we can be bolstered by the knowledge that spring will come again with bigger, brighter blooms! Knowing that our Perennial plants are enjoying a much-deserved vacation - helps with the heartbreak.
Nature Hills Nursery is here to ensure you receive the biggest, healthiest root systems and therefore highest quality plants so that you can enjoy year after year of beauty in your landscape as a result of all your hard work! Check out all the Perennial garden plants we offer and place your spring garden order today!