I have a large perennial garden here in zone 5. I am losing many plants per
year over the winter and all varieties are well suited to zone 5. Most of
the divisions I made from larger plants were lost over the winter and these
were large healthy growing plants. This past winter, the winter was mild
here in southern New York and I still lost a lot of plants. Any ideas?
It depends on what you are losing. It could be wind and sunlight. Are
the soils well drained rich in humus? I presume that you get snow but
if dry do you water the plants? It could be a combination of things but
most likely they are drying out.
I had huge, beautiful perennial beds when I lived in NW Montana and the
winters would have been much harsher than yours, I would assume. Other than
my window boxes I didn't plant annuals. I never fertilized the first year I
planted divisions. I amended the spot with screened compost, planted
divisions, watered well, no fertilizing. I also didn't mulch my flower beds.
I'm of the 'survival of the fittest' school. They all seemed to survive just
fine. Perennials establish roots the first year they are in the ground. If
you fertilize for lush top growth they don't put down the heavy root growth
they need, or so I was told during my gardening infancy and that seemed to
always work for me. For established perennials I stopped fertilizing the
last weekend of July no matter what their bloom cycle was. July was also the
month I put down the last compost for the year. I cut back on watering the
end of August. I also never cut any plants back in the fall except the very
tall ones, like hollyhock and delphinium, and those I only cut back by half.
I did cleaning and grooming as soon as the snow melted off and boots didn't
sink knee deep in the Spring thaw mud. Maybe you are being 'too kind' to
your new divisions.
It looks like I do just about what you do. I don't fertilize at all,
though. Adding compost and other amendments over the years has done the
job. When plants grow, the really grow! But the winter losses have got
me. I don't mulch in the winter. But the earth does get very dry,
especially this year with not much snow. I don't water before winter as
another here has suggested because I'm afraid the roots will rot.
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