Green Fingers: 'Perennials pack a punch year after year' - James Vaughaun

James Vaughaun

Reporter:

James Vaughaun

Email:

news@limerickleader.ie

Green Fingers: 'Perennials pack a punch year after year' - James Vaughaun

Perennials are starting to come into their own at this time of year. Plants that we grew from seed in previous years are really coming into their own now. It is not too late to grow perennials from seed. Because perennials grow for several years they can be sown at almost any time from spring until summer. In our own garden we have Lupins in full flower at the moment.

Lupins

Growing lupins is as simple as planting seeds or cuttings into a sunny area with well-drained soil. If planting lupins from seed, scratch the seed surface of the compost or soak seeds overnight in lukewarm water to allow the seed coat to be easily penetrated. Seeds of the lupin plants may also be chilled for a week in the refrigerator prior to planting. This will fool them into thinking that winter is passed and so the spring must be here.

Direct sowing of lupin seeds in autumn is perhaps the easiest method. Lupins produce seed which will re-produce more flowers the following year if not removed from the growing plant. However, we choose to remove the seed from the plant as this encourages more flowers to form. We then simply buy new seed and grow new plants from them.

Average soil is best for growing lupins. Utilise this trait and plant lupins in areas of the garden that have not been composted or enriched in other ways.

Foxgloves

I have grown foxgloves before from seed. I have also sown foxglove seeds this year. Foxglove plants grow best in rich, well-draining soil. Caring for foxglove plants will include keeping the soil moist. As a biennial or short-lived perennial, the gardener can encourage re-growth of foxglove flowers by not allowing the soil to dry out or to get too soggy.

Foxglove flowers may be grown from seed, producing blossoms in the second year. If flower heads are not removed, foxglove plants reseed themselves abundantly. Using them as cut flowers can decrease reseeding.

If flowers are allowed to drop seeds, thin the seedlings next year to about 18 inches apart, allowing growing foxgloves room to develop. If you want additional foxglove plants next year, leave the last flowers of the season to dry on the stalk and drop seeds for new growth.

The foxglove plant is grown commercially for distillation of the heart medication Digitalis. Caring for the foxglove plant should include keeping children and pets away, as all parts can be toxic when consumed. This may explain why deer and rabbits leave them alone.

Perennials from seed

It is impressive how much you can save by growing perennials yourself from seed. A single perennial plant could cost you anything between six and eight euro in a garden centre. You can buy a pack of seeds for less than four euro which contains, maybe, two hundred seeds. Even if only some seed germinate you’re still ahead. So once the garden centers open again – consider growing perennials from seed.

Contact James

james.vaughan1020@gmail.com