Long versus Short Bloomers
By the Site Ecology Team (SET)
May 16, 2016
We always welcome comments and suggestions from readers concerning our articles. From time to time we get ideas that are truly exciting and unexpected. A recent inquiry asked if long bloomers were better than short bloomers for North Carolina’s climate and what could be done to make bloomers last longer. My first thought was “Wow, what an insightful question”. Surely, this individual must be a follower of the old school tradition.
Where does one start in addressing bloomers in a concise, frank, and informative manner? One of the first considerations is how much can be budgeted and for how long? An undertaking of this nature requires both dedication and commitment. What effect is hoped for and what is the degree of exposure? Proper selection and availability are important factors if a large area is to be covered. Don’t overlook how well choices integrate with other colors, shapes, and textures?
Many perennial plants like rudbeckias, gaillardias, coreopsis, veronicas, geraniums, lavenders, and sedums are viewed as long bloomers. They can have a long flowering season of up to three months or more, plus they will regrow from the same plant the following year. Long season doesn’t and shouldn’t imply all season. Short bloomers are often annuals (bedding plants) with their major flower show lasting but a few weeks. They may reseed themselves, providing new plants the following year, but expect to purchase additional plants in upcoming years.
A way to extend the flowering period is to trim or “dead head” the bloomers as they fade. This will help rejuvenate the plant and prevent energy being used for seed production (unless that is an objective). Subsequent flowering is usually less showy than the initial one. Perennial are often propagated by root division, stem rooting, or other vegetative means.
Check with your local nurseries or plant guides for information on blooming time and flower duration for zones 6-8. If possible, try to enhance your environment by having a progression of plants in bloom throughout the season. The effect would provide both attractiveness and increase the potential for butterflies and other pollinator visits.