Want Three Seasons of Blooming Perennials? We Asked a Master Gardener How.
At the Springfield Botanical Center, Master Gardener Nora Cox is watching as a fellow gardener turns some dirt with a shovel.
Cox tends to the “English Garden,” one of many gardens throughout Nathanael Greene Park in Springfield.
Any plant that lives dormant underground—or “goes to sleep,” as Cox calls it—is considered a perennial.
Living in the Ozarks we’re fortunate, she says, because many perennials sprout early in the spring and many grow well in this area.
“You can find perennials that go throughout the season. One of the big ones around here is Echinacea, or the Cone Flower. The Cone Flower comes in several colors and varieties and that’s one you see blooming very vigorously throughout the summer. And it will bloom all the way through ‘til frost,” Cox said.
The early bloomers, she said, are Hellebores, Daffodils, and Tulips, all of which do well in the Ozarks.
“Then of course, we’ll have a beautiful Peony season coming up really soon. And then that will take us into the summer blooming: the Coreopsis, the Catmint or Nepeta, the Butterfly Bushes that are so gorgeous around here,” Cox said.
“We do really well with hearty Hibiscus that grow, sometimes, flowers that look like a dinner plate. They’re just huge,” she said.
In the fall, vibrant, amber Goldenrod starts to bloom.
And the Ozarks also has beautiful Sedums, Asters, and Mums, Cox added.
“And that gets you all the way through ‘til frost, just with perennials!”
Bright colored perennials like Coreopsis, Tithonia and Rose of Sharon attract and support bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other insects, Cox says.
“It’s important to buy plants from sources that you know. Plants that aren't treated so that they will harm birds and bees and butterflies because that would be the wrong way to go. I try to buy, if I’m buying things, I try to buy from the Missouri State Plant Sale. I buy from the Master Gardeners Plant Sale because I know that will be really great quality plant stock,” she said.
If you’re a beginner, Cox suggests starting out with easy bulbs like Liatris, Calla Lilies and Daylilies because they’re forgiving.
“I’m a fan of Peonies. So if you can find some Peonies, you will have flowers—well. peonies live longer than people do. So you’ll have flowers throughout your lifetime if you plant some Peonies,” Cox said.
Cox says other gardeners tend to be very generous and will often give away plants as well as advice to novice gardeners.
For more gardening information and resources visit http://extension.missouri.edu/greene/mastergardeners.aspx or the Springfield Botanical Center.