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Growing Perennials In Containers – Ideas, And Tips

Introduction to Growing Perennials in Containers

Perennials are plants that don’t need to be replanted each year and simply Perennial is a plant that lives more than 2 years. The plants continue to grow and thrive throughout the seasons. Growing Perennials from seed is cheaper than buying container-grown plants from a nursery. When starting Perennial plants from seed, blooms will be observed in the spring or summer of the second year and each year thereafter. In this topic we also discuss the following contents;

  • How to plant Perennials in simple steps
  • Different types of Perennial plants to grow in pots
  • Can you grow Perennial plants in pots
  • Tips for growing the most gorgeous Perennials
  • Grow your own Perennial herb container garden
  • How to grow your Perennial plants

A Step By Step Guide to Growing Perennials in Containers

Perennial plants are all about the roots. Keeping the roots strong and healthy is the number one consideration when growing Perennial plants. Container-grown Perennial plants are the ones you buy at a nursery or plant center and they’re the easiest to transplant successfully. Then, dig a hole twice as wide as the container but no deeper. Pull the plant out of the pot, gently loosen the plant roots, and place them in the hole. Then, fill the hole with soil mixed with compost and water well. Fertilize a week after planting. Perennial plants come in a wide range of types and sizes and can range from fruit-bearing trees to flowery plants.

Different Types of Perennials

Different Types of Perennials include;

Evergreen Perennials – These Perennials appear to be dormant during the warm season. They tend to require little maintenance. Some evergreen Perennials are Christmas fern, coral bells, and blue oat grass.

Deciduous Perennials – These plants prefer a warmer and temperate climate and tend to grow only during the spring and summer seasons. The plants are reliable and spectacular plants that can provide a delight of colors and texture to the garden year after year. Some examples of deciduous Perennials are Daisy, Peony, Poppy, Ferns, Iris, and Daylilies.

Monocarpic Perennials – Monocarpic Perennials have a unique life cycle. They die after they flower the first time and plants can live up to 40 years before it flowers. Agave and bamboo are some examples of monocarpic Perennial plants.

Woody Perennials – These are pretty strong and require some care, but you have to plant them in the right climate zone and the right soil. Examples of woody Perennial plants are Maple, Apple, and Pine trees.

Herbaceous Perennials – These plants tend to go dormant during the winter season, and their roots continue to grow, shooting out new sprouts in the spring season. Popular herbaceous Perennials include herbs like Chives, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Banana, and Dill.

Choose the Best Site for Growing Perennials

Most blooming Perennial flowers require full sun. That means 6 to 8 total hours of direct sun each day of the growing season. You can still grow a pretty garden, but you’ll have to select Perennial plants that thrive with part shade or shade.

Soil Preparation for Growing Perennials in Containers

Starting Perennial plants from seeds, the chances of good plant growth are improved when you make sure the garden soil is nourishing and that it drains well. A soil test and some experienced advice can be the first step for any gardener.

Good soil preparation is important for Perennials, since they may be in place for many years. Deeply spade the beds to a depth of about 8 to 10 inches. Amend clay soils by mixing in at least 2 inches of composted pine bark, or a pine bark-based soil conditioner to improve the soil drainage. Good soil drainage is critical to the success of most Perennial plants. In the absence of a soil test, add a complete fertilizer like 10-10-10 at the rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet of bed area, or complete organic fertilizer following label directions.

A pH level of 6.0 to 6.5 is ideal for most Perennials. Most soils are very acidic (except for some areas along the coast) and require the addition of lime to correct pH levels. Incorporate lime and fertilizer into the top about 4 to 6 inches of soil after mixing in the soil amendments. Rake the soil surface smooth.

Choosing a Potting Soil for Growing Perennials in Containers

Any good potting soil can be used with containerized Perennial plants. Potting soil should be lighter. Test the pH level of the soil. Meters that measure pH levels are easy to use and are available at most nurseries. This pH meter will measure the degree of acidity or alkalinity of the soil.

Acid loving plants need soil with a pH level lower than 6.5.

Alkaline loving plants need soil with a pH level higher than 7.5.

Those that prefer neutral soil like soil pH between 6.5 and 7.5.

It is very important to know what kind of soil the Perennials you are using in your containers prefer.

Choosing Containers for Growing Perennials

The only requirement for selecting a container is that it has at least one drainage hole. You can use containers made of clay, wood, metal, plastic, or materials; each material has its advantages and drawbacks. Plastic containers are lighter and the soil doesn’t dry out as fast, but it isn’t always the most aesthetically pleasing choice. Clay containers are attractive for growing Perennials, but those that are not painted lose moisture more rapidly than other materials. Many do not come with drainage holes in the bottom, but the material is easy to drill through so you can make the holes yourself.

When it comes to planting Perennials in containers, the rule of thumb is the bigger size of the pot is better. First, Perennials have larger root systems than annuals, so they need more space to grow well. Second, Perennial plants in bigger pots have a better chance of overwintering successfully.

When choosing a container for growing Perennials, try to coordinate the pot type and color with the surroundings in which it will be placed. If you are planning on using the pots in the garden amongst other plants, you could want to use one that is made of a natural material like wood, to help it blend in with its surroundings.

Good drainage is essential for containerized Perennials unless you are trying to create a water garden. The selected container must have at least one drainage hole. If the pot you choose does not have a hole in the bottom of the container, make one yourself with a drill.

Add a drainage layer to the bottom of the container and some people like to use pea gravel or pottery shards for this. A mesh bag filled with Styrofoam peanuts works just as well and is lighter. This might work better for you if you plan on moving containers around the yard.

General Perennial Planting Instructions

Step 1) Choose a location where water drains quickly after rainfall. Prepare your planting bed by loosening and turning under the soil to a depth of 8 inches.

Step 2) Fill containers with seed-starting mix. Sprinkle a couple of plant seeds on top of the potting mix in each pot. Water well and sprinkle water with your fingers so you don’t wash the seeds out of the soil.

Step 3) Cover each container with plastic wraps and then places it in a draft-free spot. Keeping the seeds moist and seeds should sprout within 3 weeks. 

Step 4) Amend your soil – add peat moss or compost and then work in. Test your soil for specific needs. Dig the hole for each plant a little larger than the root ball and set each plant slightly below the level of the surrounding soil.

Step 5) Water your Perennials and gently add about a quart of water to the “saucer” around each plant. Water again; let soak in. Fill in loose, fine soil around clump and water again as needed.

Step 6) Mulch Perennials in cold climates. After soil freezes solid in late fall, apply mulch around Perennial clumps. Remove winter mulch in spring before growth begins.

Step 7) Place the seedlings in a sunny spot and a windowsill will work or you can place them under a grow light. Bright light will make them grow like crazy.

Step 8) When Perennial plants are a couple of inches tall, transplant them to a temporary home. The little Perennial plants will get a better start if you put them in a raised bed where you can pamper them for a season. Fertilize a week after transplanting and label them. The following spring season; move them to their forever home. Your Perennial plants are now adults and ready to grow on their own, with far less help from you. The following fall, harvest Perennial seed from plants. Continue the cycle of life and grow more plants from seed over the winter season.

Process of Growing Perennial Plants Indoors in Containers

  • First, fill the containers about 2/3 of the way with soil.
  • Place about 2 or 3 seeds in each container, covering them with a small amount of soil.
  • Add enough water to moisten the soil and cover with plastic wrap to create a warm environment.
  • Place the containers or pots in artificial or direct sunlight.
  • Check the plants daily and then add water as needed. Once the seeds begin to sprout, remove the plastic covering, and keep young plants away from the draft. The Perennial plants can stay in the containers or be planted in the ground.

Process of Planting Perennials

Most Perennials should be planted in the fall or early spring season. Fall planting gives the plant more time to become established before the start of active growth in the spring season. Fall-planted Perennials are well-established before hot weather. Fall planting must be finished at least 6 weeks before hard-freezing weather occurs. Many Perennial plants can be grown from seed, but most gardeners prefer to start with established plants. Perennial plants are available grown in containers, field-grown, or shipped bare-root and dormant.

If plants are somewhat pot-bound at planting time, loosen the plant roots around the bottom and sides of the root ball and spread them out in the bottom of the planting hole. Refill the hole, firming the soil around the plant to avoid air pockets, and be sure the crown of the plant is even with the soil surface.

Basic Seasonal Care for Perennials Growing in Containers

  • Spring mulching – After Perennial clumps begin growth in the spring season, add mulch to the soil around plants. Do not cover crowns. Use grass clippings, shredded leaves, compost, and wood chips, etc. Mulch keeps the soil moist; roots cool; prevents weed growth and then adds a layer of humus which will aid future growth. Stake taller Perennials to prevent damage by wind and tie plants up as they grow.
  • Pruning – When Perennial plants have finished blooming, remove dead flower heads and stalks, to prevent the plants from setting seed and to preserve their strength. Then, apply a slow-release fertilizer to keep foliage growing. This will assure healthy plant growth and good bloom the following year.
  • Fall trimming – Some Perennial plants die back to the roots in fall; cut stems back to 3 to 4 inches above crowns. The clump will send up new growth in the early spring season.
  • Dividing and Multiplying – Most Perennials can be divided after 2 or 3 years to provide a continual source of new plants. To keep plants healthy, they must be divided before they become over-crowded. After 3 or 4 years of growth, dig up the root masses in the early fall season. Cut the crown of each Perennial into several sections by using a sharp knife, with each piece retaining its root system. Mulch Perennial plants heavily to provide winter protection.

Watering Requirements for Growing Perennials in Containers

Depending on where you live, if you select plants suited to your location, and mulch them well, you may not need to water at all. If you live where summers are dry and you do need to water, try to water deeply and avoid getting water on the foliage.

Perennials growing from seed

Seeds are the least expensive method to start a garden of Perennial plants. Growing Perennials from seed takes more skill and patience than transplanting container-grown Perennial plants. Perennial plants are slow-growing, so if you sow seeds directly in the ground after the last frost you won’t have adult plants till late in the season. Best to start them in the winter season, indoors, in small pots, and pamper them until they are large enough to transplant outdoors.

Perennials Growing Problems

Perennials vary considerably in their susceptibility to pests. Selection of resistant plant species, proper site selection, and good cultural practices will prevent many disease problems.

Perennial Plants to Grow in Containers

The following popular Perennial plants qualify as good candidates for container gardening.

Bougainvillaeas – Bougainvillea is a Perennial vine that can grow to 30 feet, depending on the plant variety.

Mogra – Mogra is an evergreen shrub that is grown throughout the tropics.

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Mogra plant
Mogra plant

Peace Lily – These evergreen Perennial shows silky white color flowers and, surprisingly, don’t need excessive water to survive.

Salvia – It is perfect for all kinds of containers. Cut flowers are long-lasting in fresh bouquets. Plant in drifts or bands for best effect.

Impatiens – Impatiens are Perennial plants. Impatiens tolerates full shade.

Hosta – Hosta plants thrive in the shade, and are available in an almost limitless selection of sizes, shapes, and colors.

Spider Plants – It’s easy to grow and propagate and is tolerant of neglect. Spider plants are the best indoor plants for reducing formaldehyde.

Gerbera Daisy – These are beautiful, almost cartoon-like colorful daisies that look great when in bloom, but are beautiful leafy plants without flowers.


Some other Perennials growing in containers are Coreopsis, Sedum, Purple Coneflower, Peony, Bearded Iris, Daylily, Aster, Catmint, Primroses, Sage, and Lily.

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