Some of the best perennials for Great Lakes gardens bloom in summer. Most perennials bloom for a few weeks and then rest, storing up nutrients for winter survival and the following year’s flowers. Some of our most prized perennials are timed to bloom in summer, which is why a Great Lakes garden always seems so rich at this time. Here are a few tips to keep them blooming.
Established perennials can go two weeks or more without rainfall or water from the hose. The exception is blooming perennials. Adequate moisture is key to supporting most plants during their bloom cycle. A gallon of water every two weeks should be enough for most blooming perennials. Newly planted perennials need about one gallon of water a week the first few summers, until the plants are established. The amount of water needed for blooming or newly planted perennials will vary according to your soil structure, make up and whether the garden is in sun or shade. It’s almost always better to err on the side of too little water than too much.
Perennials growing in soil with too much fertilizer will get floppy. Perennials do best when grown in organically rich soil. If fertilizer is necessary, consider an organic, slow-release granular product, which will help improve the soil. Good soil is the most important factor for a beautiful flower garden.
Remove the spent (shriveled and no longer blooming) flowers. By snipping off the spent flowers, you prevent a plant from going to seed, which encourages it to continue to bloom. Deadheading can extend the bloom cycle for several weeks.
Weeds compete with perennials for nutrients, including water. Keeping the perennial garden free of weeds by hand pulling. There are natural and synthetic pre-emergent herbicides that can be used in perennial beds to keep weed seeds from sprouting. Most herbicides that kill existing weeds are not/ recommended for use around perennials and other desirable plants. Always read and follow the label directions of the products you use.
Here’s a sampler of some of the best summer-blooming perennials for your Great Lakes garden:
- Balloon flower
- Bee balm
- Black-eyed Susan
- Blanket flower
- False sunflower
- Meadow sage
- Pincushion flower
- Stoke’s aster
Part Shade/Shade Perennials
- Bleeding heart