Belgian offers hundreds of varieties of Perennials, including Hosta, Hemerocallis (Daylilies), Astilbe, Asclepias (Butterfly Weed), Campanula, Heuchera (Coral Bells), Peonies, Lavender, Thyme, Vinca (Periwinkle) and Iris, and more! We also carry Hardy Grasses, Hardy Climbing Vines, Groundcovers, Hardy Ferns, Perennials for Rockeries, Native Perennials, and much more.
Our Perennial Centre is open from mid-April to October and features a wide selection of Perennials throughout these months, depending on blooming season and availability; the largest selection is typically available during May and June. Varieties are organized by light location (Sun or Shade) for easy shopping and identification. Larger pots of select Perennials become available in the summer and early fall, and with its covered roof there’s no need to let Mother Nature get in the way of the shopping experience!
Belgian’s Perennial Centre changes constantly and rapidly with every season, as new shipments arrive from several growers every week! Come and explore our Perennial Centre to see what additions you can find for your garden.
The advantage of a Perennial garden is the breathtaking options! There are so many styles when it comes to creating a Perennial garden, and they all add colour and beauty to your outdoor spaces. Maybe you’re looking for a brightly coloured rainbow of flowering plants, or want to feature different textures through foliage; your garden’s overall look will depend on your personal choices. Perennials can also help to create privacy; tall Perennial Grasses or Hardy Vines on a fence are great ways to soften the view of neighbours or busy roads. Cut down the need for the lawnmower by filling low traffic areas with Perennial Groundcovers, such as Thyme, Irish or Scotch Moss, or Vinca (Periwinkle/Myrtle). Check out our selection of Jeepers Creepers™ groundcovers, which are “Down Low and Fun To Grow™” for fantastic additions to your pathways and borders – they even have tough varieties you can walk on!
Most Perennials bloom for a specific period every year, typically three to six weeks, and our Perennial Centre is filled with varieties at the peak of their flowering times. Walk through and explore often to see what the seasons bring: Moss Phlox and Violas in early spring, Echinacea (Coneflower) and Perennial Hibiscus in summer, Sedum (Stonecrop) in early fall, and more! It’s easy to get non-stop colourful blooms, from spring all the way to fall frost, by choosing varieties in a wide range of flowering times. Check out the plant tags that can be found on all of our Perennial pots; our suppliers offer lots of information about individual heights, spreads, flowering times, and care tips for each variety. Belgian does not do mail order or special orders, and we do not hold plants; it’s better to see our selection in person!
For a great resource for additional perennial information visit: www.perennials.com
Success with Perennials – General Care & Tips
Light: Perennials are available for sunny and shady locations. Know your location, and then pick perennials to suit the conditions.
- Full Sun: Sun all day with little to no shade. Minimal shade only in the early morning or late afternoon, not exceeding a few hours.
- Partial Sun: Direct sun shines on the area for approximately half the day, particularly in the afternoon when the light is strongest. Light filtering through a deciduous (maple, oak, etc.) tree canopy for most of the day can be considered Partial Sun.
- Partial Shade: Direct sun shines on the area for approximately half the day, preferably in the morning when the light is weaker. A tree canopy that allows some beams of light through and filtered light for the remainder of the day can be considered partial shade.
- Full Shade: Shade all day with little to no sun. Generally under a dense tree canopy or along the North side of a building, hedge, etc.
- Deep Shade: No sun; under dense canopy of trees. These locations are usually very dry.
For most sun Perennials, full or all day sun is best. Energy levels from the sun are weaker in the morning and strengthen over the course of the day, with the highest levels occurring between 11:00am and 4:00pm. If your location is partially shaded, afternoon sun is preferred over morning sun for these varieties. Shade created from a tree is suitable as light can still filter through the canopy, though this is considered Partial Sun.
Shade Perennials prefer shade for most of the day. If your location is partially shaded, afternoon shade is best. Deep dry shade, created from a dense tree canopy, may require extra watering as your plants will have to compete with the trees’ dense root system for moisture.
Water: Water your plants deeply right after planting, and make sure to water all newly planted Perennials regularly and deeply until their roots systems are fully established; typically this takes a full growing year. Some Perennial varieties are more ‘drought tolerant’ than others, and typically do well with regular rainfalls through the growing season; during summer heat and droughts Perennials will benefit from additional deep waterings, even established plants.
Perennials which have been relocated and/or divided are considered ‘new plantings’ and need at least a full year of deep, regular waterings to re-establish their roots. Check all your plants and water deeply.
What about rain? Weather is the biggest factor when watering, as rain levels and temperature will determine how much supplemental watering (from you, the gardener) is needed. A long, slow rain that accumulates and absorbs deeply into the soil is the best kind of rain for all plants and gardens. Do not rely on thunderstorms as a substitute for deep watering; the water flows too quickly and may not be sufficiently absorbed into the ground.
Fertilizer: For new plantings, dig the hole slightly deeper than necessary and add some compost, manure, and/or bone meal to the bottom, then place your Perennial directly on top of the nutrient-rich foundation. Established Perennials find sufficient nutrients within the garden soil, so regular feeding is not necessary. A slow release Perennial/Annual fertilizer can be added in the spring once the ground has thawed and is firm enough for your gardening chores. Sprinkle the recommend rate (as found on the container) around your plants; be sure to avoid new shoots and foliage.
Soil Preparation: Perennials obtain most of their nutrients through their roots from the soil, so give them a strong foundation by preparing your garden beds before planting. Loose, rich, organic soil is best for most Perennials. Some beds may require soil amendments to improve their overall health – 3/1 (Triple) Mix, Garden Soil, or top soil are all ideal options. Adding Manure or compost is also beneficial to add nutrients to the area. Soil with a high content of clay and/or loam should be lightened with Peat Moss. Amending the soil before planting is easily done when there are no roots or plants in the way.
Mulch: Mulch not only looks good, it also retains moisture and discourages weed growth. Just add 1 to 2 inches of mulch as a finishing layer on garden beds after planting, and add 1” every two years to keep the look fresh and weeds at bay. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the crowns (bases) of your Perennials to maintain air circulation.
Planting: Remember to choose your varieties based on the light location of your gardens: full sun, partial shade, etc. Before planting, amend your soil by mixing in 3/1 (Triple) Mix, Black Earth, Manure, or other amendments as needed; add Peat Moss for heavy clay or sandy soils.
1) Dig your hole approximately one and a half times the size of your root ball and add slow release fertilizer and/or bone meal to the bottom of the hole.
2) Remove the Perennial from its container, gently loosen the roots and place it in the hole, ensuring the plant is upright and soil level remains constant – not too deep, not too shallow.
3) Fill in the rest of the hole with amended soil. To direct even more water towards the roots, create a raised ring of soil around the plant, matching the diameter of the slightly larger hole you just dug for your Perennial.
4) Water regularly and deeply until established, at least one full year.
5) Mulch to help retain moisture and reduce weed growth.
Maintenance: Each Perennial has its own individual needs. Use the grower’s tags to find out what your plant requires. Below are some basic guidelines for most Perennials:
- Weed regularly, especially newly planted areas.
- Deadhead (remove old flowers) – On flowering Perennials prune entire plant back (by no more than a third) after flowering or if they’re looking untidy; do not prune Perennial bulbs (Lilies, Daffodils, etc.) or Peonies in this manner as they have their own pruning requirements. Many other flowering Perennials respond well to summer pruning.
- In early June, place plant stakes at taller plants and tie up the stems as they grow to help keep them upright.
- Monitor for insects and diseases; treat accordingly.
Click Here for Information regarding Plant Problems, Insects & Disease Solutions
Dividing: The best time to divide most Perennials is in the spring, just as the plants are starting to show signs of growth. You’ll know it’s time to divide when the middle of the clump starts to thin or die out; for most varieties this is usually every 3 to 5 years (especially Tall Bearded Iris and Siberian Iris). To divide, dig a few inches past the edge of the crown or leaf canopy (give those roots plenty of space) and lift the root ball out of the ground. Knock off most of the soil using the back of your shovel or your hands, then use a spade or knife to slice the root ball in half or quarters, depending on the size of the plant. Each piece should have a good chunk of viable roots and eyes (growing shoots) to produce new growth. Plant one of the divisions back in the original hole (amend or add new soil if needed) and use the others to fill in areas of your gardens, start new garden beds or share them with your friends!
Clean Up –Fall or Spring?
For most Perennials, it doesn’t matter whether they are cleaned up in fall or spring. The timing is primarily up to you, typically whenever you have the most time to get the chore done. Pruning and cutting back by hand is the best way, however for larger gardens you can use hedge shears or a line trimmer (especially for larger grasses) to make the task go smoothly. If you wait until after a hard fall frost, most Perennial foliage, like Hostas and Daylilies, can be pulled right off no snips required! If you choose to wait until spring, be mindful of your timing: too early and the ground will be too soft to work in and existing roots could get crushed, but too late and the new Perennial growth could be choked out by the previous year’s foliage and branches.
Some Perennials should only be cleaned up in spring, including Heuchera (Coral Bells), Helleborus (Hellebores), Bergenia, and many rock garden and alpine plants. These varieties do not require being cut back, just a quick clean-up of brown or icky leaves and they are ready for another year!
Before you trim, consider winter interest. Many Hardy Grasses look wonderful with a dusting of frost and snow on them. Perennials like Sedum and Russian Sage also look great with their dried flower heads. If you find you don’t like the look, simply wait for a mild winter day to chop them off.
At Belgian Nursery we are located in a Zone 5 climate. To determine your hardiness zone simply use the chart below, which refers to the lowest winter temperature in your area. It is best to choose plants that are suited to your zone or colder. Plants with borderline hardiness (i.e. a Zone 6 Perennial planted in Waterloo, which is a Zone 5 area) may not survive a hard winter; give them the best chance to thrive by planting close to your house and protected from north winds, with added mulch for winter.
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