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COL What to plant, how to maintain

As the season is fast approaching to get those plants in, here are some tips that will help you decide what to plant and how to maintain them.

Grow undemanding perennials that return for years without needing division. Hostas, peonies and daylilies are timesaving troupers of the perennial border. Group all thirsty plants together near your water source. It is the most efficient way to save time. Put the right plant in the right place.

What are my favorite perennials? I have come up with a partial list. It took me a while but this list is of pretty much no-fail perennials.

I have included the varieties, some with the botanical name in parenthesis. If you can't find a certain type, then the next best thing is to try to find the plant variety.

Achillea yarrow, anthea, Coronation Gold. Yarrow blooms for the entire summer; it can handle dry weather and dries nicely. It could become invasive, so plant in more natural surroundings.

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Asters (Newton pink, purple dome. I recommend that you try varieties and keep those that work the best for your location. They usually bloom in the fall, but some can bloom in the summer.

Astilbe or false spirea. These are among the most delicate lacy leaf perennial for shady areas. These bloom from early to late summer. The leaves are attractive and the plumes of the flowers make it a wonderful addition for foliage interest. Astilbe needs to be kept fairly moist.

Campanula or bellflower Bellflowers are a large group and the colors and forms are endless. Many will bloom for long periods and even longer if you deadhead. These are usually a disease-free plant and live for many years.

Coreopsis or tickseed These are easy to grow and have bright yellow, orange flowers that look like daisies. They bloom for a long time and work good for cut arrangements. They should bloom almost all summer.

Hardy mums. These are a bit different than regular garden mums. Look for Dendranthema species .

Dianthus or pink Dianthus is a wonderful little plant; it smells good and works wonderful as a cut flower. They also grow good from seed.

Bleeding heart These work well for shady gardens. Remove dead flowers on the fringed types to encourage more blooms.

Nepeta or catmint The reason I like this plant is that it combines well with other plants and is useful. I use it in various locations and it helps attract beneficial insects. It isn't invasive, but can spread quickly, so pull the ones that seem to wander. They have a shallow root system and grow in mounds.

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This is a good start for you to try if you do not have these perennials already, I challenge you to find new varieties of them or try some other new plants that you have been eyeing in the greenhouse.

Keep those questions and comments coming by sending to: Christine Schlueter, 19276 Walden Ave. Hutchinson, MN 55350 or e-mail rcschlueter@yahoo.com

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