This is a good time to be reflecting on what was working and not working in your garden last year. It seems that most perennial flower gardens have at least one area that is a challenge. Sometimes your garden problems have to do with growing the right plant in the right place. While the basics of matching the plant with the sun, hardiness zone and space is important, there are other conditions that dictate the growing of specific plants.

So, let's tackle a few unique growing conditions and think about plants that will thrive there.

Heavy clay soil can be a back breaker and tough for plants to take root. Try selecting tap rooted flowers such as baptisia, butterfly weed or asters. Tap rooted trees and shrubs, such as oaks, hickories, hollies, junipers and conifers, also grow better than other trees and shrubs in clay soil. They have the ability to break up the clay as they grow. Just remember that tap rooted plants, once established, don't like to be moved or transplanted.

Tap rooted plants can also help in another example of a problem area; steep slopes. Slopes with a grade greater than 20% are hard to mow safely. These slopes are best planted with perennials and shrubs that will cover the area over time, rooting as they go and hopefully choking out weeds. A few examples of plants that will grow well on a slope include forsythia, barberry, fragrant sumac, Siberian carpet cypress, cotoneaster, rock rose, prostrate rosemary and bluestem grass. Plant clumps of these plants on slopes while creating a moat around them to hold water and not erode the soil. Slowly let your plants expand keeping aggressive weeds away until they get established.

Most gardens have shade, but not all shade is the same. In dry shade, like under a large tree, try growing euphorbia, Soloman’s Seal, epimedium, lamium and repeat blooming daylilies. Of course, the more light you can give the plants, the better they’ll flower. Nothing really grows well under a low lying evergreen tree.

If you have wet shade, such as near a stream or low spot, try growing yellow foxgloves, cardinal flower, great blue lobelia and black snake root.

We have a spot in our garden that gets lots of sun and dries out quickly. After much experimenting with perennial flowers, and losing some plants, we’ve found lavender, Russian sage, yarrow, echinacea and sedums grow well in this location.

For any of these plant solutions, be sure you match the sun, soil and growing conditions you have in your yard with the plants you purchase. Favor native plants and varieties and ones adapted to this region. Also, consider edible landscape plants in your plans to provide you and wildlife with food.

When making decisions on what to plant (or what not to plant), do your “research” through the Craven County Cooperative Extension, NCSU web-site or a reputable local garden center.

Choose plants wisely and you’ll be rewarded with success!

 

Judi Lloyd lives in River Bend ad can be contacted at judilloyd@yahoo.com