Let's talk for a minute about maintaining perennials. . .
Perennials require less water than annuals because their roots are deeper. Thorough watering, and then waiting until the top two inches of soil is dry, produces perennials with deep roots, lush foliage and plentiful blossoms. Frequent, shallow watering creates a shallow rooted, leggy plant with fewer blooms. The best way to keep weeding to a minimum is to weed thoroughly before you plant and put on mulch afterwards, adding additional mulch yearly. The mulch should be two to three inches thick, taking care not to cover the crown of the plant. Using Hi-Yield Turf and Ornamental Weed and Grass Stopper will keep weeds and grass from sprouting in the mulch and makes maintenance a snap. Fertilizing your perennial bed is a simple affair, since perennials don't need as much feeding as annuals do. A light application of a complete granulated fertilizer and iron in the early spring and fall, with a few spray applications of Ferti-lome Blooming and Rooting plant food through the season, should be sufficient. If the perennials yellow or are stunted, feed them again. If you have plants that need staking to keep them upright, do it early in the season so the growing foliage will hide the support. For perennials that bloom in midsummer or later, pinching back the stems early in the growing season may yield double or triple the amount of blooms. This also makes the plant shorter and more compact, less likely to need staking. Pinching off spent blooms, called dead heading, is important. It improves the appearance of the plant, and may greatly prolong the blooming period. Cut the plant back as soon as it has stopped flowering for a fresh wave of growth, and maybe a second bloom. To prepare for winter, most perennials should be cut to the ground and mulched over when the season is over, except for chrysanthemums and grasses, which should be left a foot tall to protect the crowns of the plants from frost, wind and sun. If you have plenty of snow, no winter mulching is necessary, but if you have an open winter, the plants need to be covered to protect them from temperature variations, loss of moisture, and winter kill.