Perennials – Managing Stress in Mid to Late Summer

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Perennials, whose vibrant beauty are on display from spring into early summer, often begin to lose their luster later in the warmer months due to heat and, in many cases, drought.

Depending on the type of perennial, location and water conditions, a scorched, heat-stressed appearance can develop. The plants can also stop blooming, either due to stressful conditions or because the prime blossoming period has concluded. Some perennials, such as hostas, daylilies, and many others, often struggle and look unappealing, leaving many gardeners unsure of how to deal with them.

A number of perennials will, in fact, tolerate a simple pruning back of their entire foliage – or the portion of the plant above the ground – that will simply remove any old, scorched greenery. With the onset of water, rainfall and cooler conditions, an emergence of new foliage will reappear, giving your plants a fresher, brighter appearance.

It has been our experience, for example, that daylilies often take on a very old, charred look by late summer. Cutting them back to ground level generates a fresh, bright green appearance for a greatly improved esthetic. Some varieties, such as lavender, rosemary, Artemesia and Russian Sage, are among those that do not react well to being cut back all the way to the ground. They can, however, be sheared back by about 50 percent, into a mounded shape that will help them retain some of their woody stem structure.

Regarding watering, on average established plants require about an inch of water per week and it’s preferred that they receive that water at one time. A good, deep watering of your perennials every week helps them maintain a deep root system and gives the plant a good reservoir of water from which to draw. Younger establishing perennials can often take more water while they are in their rooting and developing stage so take this into consideration when managing watering needs.

Be aware that while a revitalized appearance often occurs with many perennials, it isn’t always the case. If you’re not sure what your pruning options are regarding your perennials, don’t hesitate to ask our professionals here at Evergreen which ones will best tolerate this type of cutback, pruning and clean up.

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