Herbaceous Perennials – Notes from Class

I’m currently taking a class on perennials (HRT 230 – Meramec CC) and thought I’d share some of my notes from the class. These will be updated on a weekly basis until the end of the semester.

The instructor is Dianne O’Connell and is the most knowledgeable person I’ve ever met on the subject. She has a lot of real world practical experience and gladly shares her expertise with the class. The first class she hands out 70 pages of information and there is more to come.

One of the nice things she does is go through all the blooming perennials in the St. Louis area, although she admittedly has to limit it somewhat because of the large list. She starts in the period Jan-March and goes through the entire year.

Here are a few things I’ve learned from her.

6 foot high wall – you will need a 6 foot flower bed.

Bulbs – know what the Grade is – don’t buy from Walmart.They are the lowest bulbs.

Cultivar – is the specific type of plant that is developed by a nursery.

Dying out area – dig it all up and add compost etc to raise the bed and get better drainage. If plants still don’t do well, then get a different species or variety.

Heirlooms – come true from seed and are at least 50 years old.

Hybrid plants – don’t live as long as the standards. I’ve noticed this with all the different colors of echinacea I’ve bought in the past – almost none have survived.

Shade – partial shade. Very little will grow in total dark shade.

Sheep Shears – she uses this for deadheading large areas. I bought some from Amazon and they hurt my hand. I don’t recommend them. I prefer a hedge trimmer to trim a lot quickly/

Sun – 6 to 8 hours of sun per day

Turface – added to the soil for drainage. There are two types. Try and get the type for gardens.
Walkways (stone) – Have more space between stone walkway so that you can add in plants in-between the stones.




Scientific, Common,size,sun/shade,misc

Ajuga reptans,Bugle Weed,Fairy,stoloniferous – runners,needs great drainage or it will die out.

Aurinia saxatilis, Basket of Gold,Fairy,10″- SUN-needs good drainage-maybe hanging over edge.

Coreopsis auriculata, Mouse ear coreopsis,, 12/18″ SUN FAIRY

Coreopsis lanceolata,coreopsis, ,- what I have in my gardens. Leaves are like lances.

Creopisis zagreb,coreopsis, ,- BEST according to teacher – spreads out.

Dianthus gratianopolitanus ,dianthus, Fairy,9/12″-SUN-FAIRY – Try Tiny Rubies- needs good drainage –

Dicentra eximia,Fringed Bleeding Heart,Fairy,12/18″-SUN-

Epimedium x versicolor,Barrenwort,6/9″,Shade, POM Dry-April/Shade – slow to establish, good under a tree-doesn’t look to good in late summer-not showy

Iberris sempervirens,Candytuft, Fairy,- SUN – 9/12″ Brassicacea family – might be good for cabbage white.

Lamium galeobdolon,Yellow Archangel,9/12″,Shade, – April-dry shade-under tree-might melt out in hot summer

Lamium maculatum,Spotted Nettle,8/12″,Shade,-dry-shade-might melt out in hot summer
Mazus reptans,Mazus,2/4″,Shade,Fairy-POM-can plant in sun if it gets enouigh water-shade-POM-put in between walking stones
Myosotis sylvatica,Woodland Forget-Me-Not,6/8″,Shade,likes moisture-
Phlox divaricata, Wild Sweet William,12/15″,Shade,Native-
Pulmonaria longifolia,long leaved Lungwort,12″,Shade,dry flowers are nominal-white spots on leaves
Pulmonaria saccharata, Bethlehem Sage,9/18″Shade,dry flowers are nominal-white spots on leaves

Phlox subulata, Moss or Creeping Phlox,FAIRY, 6″-SUN-needs good drainage

Veronica – Sunny Border Blue – does poorly in St. Louis.


http://www.amleo.com/ – good source for tools


http://perennialplant.org/ – has a nice plant database


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