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April flowers

Spring planting can keep some perennials hardy throughout the year

This time of year, we look around at all the sweet plants emerging and leafing out, and we dream of beautiful colors. We have a love affair with bold, beautiful perennial flowers, and, believe it or not, spring is a great time to plant them. If you head into your local garden center soon, you will see lots of pots filled with green plants. No flowers just yet, but if you know what you are looking for, it is a wonderland of color yet to be revealed.

Coneflowers are worth looking for early. They are a wonderful summer blooming perennial, and a known workhorse because they are attractive to birds, butterflies and pollinators. They are also deer and rabbit resistant. 

Some new varieties I’ve tried have had trouble surviving the winter, but I believe it was because I planted them too late. The main advantage of planting them in early spring is that they will have more time to establish in the garden. This in turn makes them stronger, giving them a better chance to survive the next winter.

Fully established coneflower plantings can bloom from June to October and thrive in dry, hot and humid Kentucky summers. Establishment is the key. Newly planted coneflowers will benefit in the long term when watered carefully throughout their first summer.

Location is also important to the establishment and winter hardiness of coneflowers. Plant them in a location with all-day sun, in average soil. Rich soils are not necessary. Always avoid wet locations. A wet Kentucky winter can negatively affect coneflower’s winter hardiness, so pick your location wisely. 

Each spring we have lots of options to choose from for our garden. Even though we shop with our eyes, consider buying and planting a few perennial flowering plants before they are naturally in flower and see if you notice a difference in how they perform.

SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.

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