This year in our gardens, I did some major reordering and editing of existing plants. Many of the perennials I planted several years ago have filled in nicely and in some cases needed to be divided in order not to crowd and snuff out other plantings. Perennials are wonderful because as opposed to annuals, they return year after year since they are suited to your particular garden zone, and can withstand the seasonality of your garden. When you are selecting plants, they will usually indicate ‘annual’ or ‘perennial’ on the tag, but to be sure, you can do a quick internet search for the USDA zone range that particular planting is suited. For example, the flower lantana would be considered an annual in Illinois whereas in California, it is a perennial that flowers year-round and develops into a very large shrub. You can refer to the USDA Hardiness Zone map to determine your particular zone. If selected well, they will expand to fill the space they are given and over time, your reward is a lush, relatively carefree garden.
I needed to divide some of my existing perennials and thought instead of tossing them on the compost heap right away, I could put them in pots to enjoy as container plantings for the season on our patio among my herbs which I planted from seed. Using what you already have is always the most economical and eco-friendly choice, and now I can enjoy these butterfly favorites where I like to sip my morning coffee. At the end of the season, there’s no harm in throwing these on the compost. Or, I can offer them to a friend since fall is actually the best season to plant perennials. In fall, the plant is about to go into dormancy and won’t be stressed by the heat of summer and need so much water to get established. The perennials in my pots are purple coneflower, pink veronica, yarrow and cosmos. Cosmos are technically annuals that self-seed, so I never have to buy them. I planted them once years ago, and each year, I get little volunteers all over and transplant them into neat rows for cutting, or transfer to pots to enjoy for the summer. I may continue to plant my containers this way in years to come!