Meeting the fertilizer needs of your fall blooming perennials doesn’t have to be a mystery. There is a right way to do it that will produce healthy, full blooms and keep your plants thriving all through the growing season. Since perennials grow from an established, hearty root system and remain in the ground all year long, their fertilizer requirements are different from annuals who must do all of their growing in one season. It is actually much easier to care for and feed perennials than it is annuals. [photo via flickr]
Recommended Fertilizers for Perennials
All perennials, no matter when they bloom, require a certain type of fertilizer to grow healthy foliage and beautiful blooms. Unlike annuals who require multiple feedings throughout the growing season, perennials need a slow-release type of fertilizer that supplies food over an extended period of time.
The best type of fertilizer for perennials is a 10-10-10 dry mixture that slowly releases nutrients over several months. Some gardeners use a water-soluble fertilizer like Miracle-Gro, and that is fine for a quick snack for perennials, but ultimately, the plants will need a fertilizer that gives nutrients gradually and consistently for optimal growth and display.
When to Feed Fall Blooming Perennials
As stated before, perennials are much easier to care for than annuals, especially when it comes to feeding. Generally, perennials only need two feedings during the growing season. The first feeding should take place when the plants just start growing and you can see them above the soil’s surface. The second feeding should take place about a month later.
It is recommended that the perennial plants be watered thoroughly the day before they are fertilized. This reduces the risk of the fertilizer shocking or harming the plant. It also helps the fertilizer disperse into the ground for better absorption by the plant.
Perennials do not need any further fertilizing beyond these two applications, but some gardeners give a boost feeding later in the summer with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro. Avoid feeding fall blooming perennials after the end of August, and do not get fertilizer on the foliage.
Fall blooming perennials will continue to produce new foliage and blooms until the first frost. Once the leaves begin to wither and die, most can be cut back to ground level to prepare for the winter months ahead. The fertilizing you provided them in the spring/early summer will carry them through the winter and help produce strong, beautiful foliage and flowers again the following year.