Gardens

Inexpensive Perennials for Long Lasting Beauty

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By Mary Frucelli

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I have frugal tendencies and want to get the most for my money and in turn, the longest lasting plants I can find. My search led me to perennials, which are plants you can grow from seeds or purchase as plants that will come back on their own every year.

I began by looking for perennial seeds. I found purple coneflower (Echinacea) seeds at my local store. I started the seeds indoors in early spring at the same time I started my tomato and pepper plants. I nurtured the seedlings and by mid-May they were about an inch tall and large enough to transplant. I delicately transplanted them to different areas of my garden, and made sure to water them frequently. Some of the transplants made it and some did not. By the end of June, the plants that were strong enough to survive were now growing strong. I have confidence these purple coneflowers will thrive and come back every year even though they may not bloom their first year. I saved a lot of money growing these perennials from seeds. Purple coneflower plants are about five dollars apiece at local home improvement stores and I purchased the seeds for fewer than two dollars.

Astilbe is another perennial I have had fun growing. These plants come in various colors, and the flowers can be described as feathery spikes of color with beautiful foliage. I purchased these from my local home improvement store as a package of 3 roots for six dollars. I planted the roots in the spring about an inch deep in my garden and gave them water every day. A few weeks later their tiny almost fern like leaves popped up through the soil. One by one I counted them to make sure they all sprouted. About a month later they are lush and green and continuing to grow. I can't be sure they will flower this year, but next year and from then on they should bloom every year. Eventually my Astilbe will multiply and I can divide them and have even more beautiful plants. I was visiting my local farmers market recently and I saw someone selling two year old Astilbe plants for twenty dollars apiece. If my Astilbe grow as well as I think they will, six dollars for three roots sounds like a bargain to me.

A perennial worth investing money in are Hostas. These are shade loving, very versatile green leafy plants that come in many different variegated styles. Hostas look great planted under trees or in partially shaded areas of your garden beds. Some varieties of Hostas shoot off white or purple flowers and some do not, but all the varieties have beautiful foliage in shades of green, white and cream. If you live in the woods beware as Hostas can be a favorite of hungry deer. They are very cold hardy, reliable plants that will come back every year and they can multiply a lot so you really get your money's worth with these plants.

My advice for frugal gardeners is to do your research and try to grow perennials yourself either from seed, roots or inexpensive plants you find at your local home improvement store. Look for plants that will multiply on their own and you will eventually have your garden full of beautiful plants.