Long Blooming Plants, and how to make them Longer Blooming Plants: Zone 5

Tricks to Keep Plants Long Blooming

K. pinnatifida, Hypericum Hidcote, G. Rozanne
1.  Use Various Exposures

If a long blooming kind of plant is sited in various locations, it can have an ultra long flowering season.
If any given kind of plant can thrive in a range of exposures, and you put some in a shadier and some in a sunnier place,  you will typically have a longer season of bloom of this favored plant within your landscape.
Anemone robustissima

2. Use Various Cultivars

From the same Genus, choose multiple varieties which bloom at somewhat different times.
As an example,
among the late blooming Anemones, beginning in August there is a parade of the flowering of different forms which continues through much of October. In my own gardens I have a dedicated Anemone bed where I keep 3 distinct varieties, each of which is long blooming in its own right, but in addition, the varieties have overlapping but sequential seasons.
The leaves of all of these kinds of Anemones are similar, so the combined appearance is that of a unified colony. My pink A. robustissima starts things off in late August, flowers for a month or so, and then the goneby flowered stems are trimmed off. The deeper pink A. Bressingham double chimes in afterwards and ultimately the pure white Anemone japonica Honorine Jobert becomes the reigning star of the bed. Definitely my very favorite. The flowers on any one plant can last for 6 to 8 weeks in the cooling temperatures of September on into October. They will start later and end later in shadier spots. Among the long blooming hardy Geraniums there are such ‘relay race’ varieties also. Please see my list of long blooming forms below.
Anemone Honorine Jobert

3.  Avoid Extremes

If you have chosen garden places that will not have extremely hot or very dry episodes, most long blooming plants will flower and keep nice leaves  longest.

Flowering lasts Particularly Long
where Sun and Wind
are
Not Too Strong
.

4.  Tend to Their Water Needs

All plants need attention to their water needs. Some need less than others, but especially when you are establishing any garden place, your attentions to suitable watering are needed from the start.
Puddle planting, which means heavily watering each individual until the earth around it puddles at the time of planting is usually the most secure way to establish a plant.  Do this right away, not later.
If you keep up with the water according to their needs throughout the various seasons, the plants will be able to perform at their best in your place.
2011 Jul 09_0995

5.   Have Different Ages of Plants

Last year’s plants may start earlier than the new young ones. Babies may get started later, but sometimes continue to flower even when the parent plants are looking tired. For this reason having various ages of plants may increase the overall contributution of that kind of plant to your gardens. Have patience, colonies take a while to establish.

Among the long lived and long blooming perennial plants, shrubs and vines, there are many kinds where the older individual plants flower for an increasingly longer span of time as their years of residence accumulate. This is probably tied to how well they like the place you have found for them, and how many roots support them there.

6.  Keep them Trimmed

If you trim, you often improve the performance of the plant.
From the perspective of plant and garden health, it may not be necessary to trim most perennial plants but perhaps once in the season, but in the personal landscape we typically want a good appearance over as long a span of time as possible, and for this purpose, extra touching and snipping is a ‘pay it forward’ way of encouraging more flowers or better growth in the nearby future. If you cut away away goneby stems of a potentially long blooming plant you will be helping the plant to conserve energy for new stems and flowers instead of spending it on seed production.
So you can do what you want about neatness, trimming to your taste and preferences, but if you want things to look the best they can, for as long as possible, you will probably be following the advice of the famous British gardener Christopher Lloyd :
….……………………“Don’t go out without your pruners.”

Favorite Garden Scissors
Taking down the spent stalks of most plants post flowering helps keep the rest of the plant looking fresh in the garden. If it has nice foliage, it can then continue to contribute to the garden composition. Even if old stems are somewhat hidden under flowering skirts, such as is the case for the self sowing California poppies and Corydalis lutea and C. l. alba, if you lift the foliage skirts and trim off the old bits underneath, afterwards the overall plant will have a rejuvenated appearance.

7. Prune at the correct time for the plant at hand.

Pruning soon after flowering is the general rule to follow. Of course there are exceptions, but typically this will mean the plants can put their energy into just the parts of themselves that you will be keeping. If you wait to prune until long after blooming, the plant will already have spent energy in renewing parts you may later prune off.

To help you to decide how much to prune away, you will want to consider the amount of growth that kind of plant puts on each year, and whether your landscape context would benefit from somewhat less of that anticipated enthusiasm. If something is going to put on three feet a year, for example, and you don’t have room to accomodate three feet more than the individual occupies already, you will have some purposeful three foot pruning back to do at the time of year most appropriate for that plant. In this way you are making room for the new growth of the coming year, while ultimately remaining within your chosen bounds.

The exceptions are those plants that fruit, berry or have beautiful seedpods.
Since the fruits and berries typically develop where the flowers were, you would not want to prune these kinds of trees or shrubs until after the harvest (whether by you or by the birds and friends), or after your enjoyment of the winter pictures.

There are many variations in when and how to prune, depending upon who the plant is and how it behaves, so to do the right thing, you may want to Google your possible plant choices and find out about their individual habits.
Some people really love the pruning part, as is reflected by the estate tool collection below, but most folks will be fine with just a few pruning tools to cover the range of typical needs. If you choose to buy excellent tools and take care of them, they can be an investment in a long garden future.

Some examples of my Favorite
Hardy, Long Blooming Plants

If you enter the name of any particular plant I have mentioned into my search box, you may turn up other information I have provided about it in previous articles.

Lonicera sempevirens and Ampelopsis elegantissimaEllen Cool

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