How To Plant A Hardy Perennial Border Like A Pro. garden border with campanula, poppies, grasses and foxgloves, how to plant a hardy perennial border


How To Plant A Hardy Perennial Border Like A Pro

Have you ever visited public gardens, a friend or neighbours garden and thought… “I would love a border like that”? Well, you can, with a little planning, you too, can learn how to plant a hardy perennial border like a pro by growing the right plants to achieve a picture perfect border full of flowers and colour.

Firstly there are a number of things to think about when you are considering how to plant a hardy perennial border, they are as follows.

Whether you have a large expanse of garden or a small area to plant, a well planned herbaceous perennial border will provide you with colour, interest, scent and somewhere to work and enjoy, year after year.

Regardless of size of their garden plot every gardener should ask themselves about the following 5 main points before planting anything:

  • Soil type
  • Aspect
  • Size of the planting area
  • Cost
  • What plants do you want to grow

These will all determine which will be the best hardy perennial plants that you can include.

Once you have established these key considerations you can start to plan your new border.

How To Plant A Hardy Perennial Border


Soil Type

Finding out what type of soil you have will help you choose the best selection of plants for the conditions that your garden will provide them with.

A simple soil test kit will determine soil type for you and is quick and easy to use.

Preparing the area by improving the soil by adding well rotted manure, compost, mulch, homemade compost will give your hardy perennial plants a great start in life. This is especially important with clay soils, or dry soils.

Also, bear in mind whether the border is in a wet or dry part of the garden.


Is your border in full sun, part shade, full shade?

Again it is important to know, as this also will be a deciding factor of the plants you choose.

If you are taking on a new garden, designing new borders or revamping what is already there, the aspect plays a big part in the successful establishment and growing of plants. So take time to see where the sun or shade is in your garden or the border that you wish to create.

.Size of Planting Area.

This is a case of mathematics really.

Knowing the size of the planting area helps you calculate how many hardy perennials you will need to fill it.

Of course, you don’t have to plant it all at once, part of the fun and joy of gardening is adding to the garden and letting it evolve over time.


Gardening, like any hobby or interest can be as expensive as you want it to be, but keeping an eye on cost will ensure the right number of plants for any given area.

If you are strapped for cash planting a designer border on a budget can take some time, several seasons in fact, but don’t despair, the best thing about gardening is learning how to propagate, multiply and grow your garden with very little cost.

Most perennial plants can be propagated in a number of ways to make more plants for free.

If money is no object then you can design and fill the border with instant impact and gratification.

What Perennial Plants Can I Grow In My Garden?

So, with all the above considered let’s take a closer look at some perfect hardy perennial border plants.

In regard to soil type and aspect, investing in gardening books such as the RHS Plant and Flowers is a great way of researching plants and finding ones most suited to your garden’s situation.

Books will also allow you so much inspiration, let your imagination grow and your garden will grow too.

Planting A Hardy Perennial Border

Choose plants with different heights, foliage, form and movement.

What style do you wish to portray, dynamic, wow factor, or maybe a soft, floaty feel? Cottage garden, Easy Maintenance, Mediterranean, Exotic or Coastal planting are just a few planting style examples.

Selecting the colours is a matter of what you like in terms of colour schemes.

Are you looking for bold, hot and bright colours such as reds, orange, purple or yellow? Or do you want a more subtle, pastel palette in soft pinks, blues, cream and mauve?

Mauve, Blue, lemon, white flower border
How to Plant a Hardy Perennial Border Like Pro

Plants in one colour of differing shades has a calming impact, while white flowers and silvery foliage help draw attention and light up a shady corner. Colour really is your own preference.

Start at the back of the border with tall plants like foxgloves, delphiniums, red-hot pokers or tall perennial grasses.

Work your way to the front of the bed with the different heights ending with low growing and shorter plants at the front.

Soft plants that provide movement, that grow feathery type foliage or thin type foliage can be used to “look through”. I plant them throughout a border, first they draw your eye, then you see through them to more plants beyond

Plant in groups of three or five, rather than in straight rows, groups look better and as the plants grow they will look bigger too, filling spaces. Straight long rows always remind me of corporation planting schemes in parks. Not necessarily a bad design but we can allow much more imagination to influence our own planting methods.

As flowers finish there will be gaps in the planting but you can fill these in if you want to with pots of summer flowering bulbs or with annual and biennial plants to sow now for a summer of colour in order to keep the border looking lush and colourful.


How To Care For Hardy Perennials

If you have prepared the soil in the first instance with added compost or well rotted manure your plants should not need feeding again during the summer.

Keep them well watered as and when they require.

Given the information above, if you have particularly dry soils you will have chosen drought tolerant plants and they will be in their perfect environment to flourish.

Use water wisely, if you need to water your plants do so early in the morning or late evening. Install water butts to collect rain water for use on the garden and think about home garden irrigation systems on a timer.

As plants start to put on some growth, stake the ones that will need support, tall, top-heavy plants will benefit from this help. Plants like delphiniums for example will get knocked over if there is a strong wind, so support for them is essential.

Put the supports in early so you don’t have to trample over the garden once it is established. The growth of foliage will hide the stake, keeping the look natural.

Yellow, red and pink perennial plants
How to Care For Hardy Perennial Plants

Including a good quality sculpture or garden ornament will give your border extra wow factor and will provide some winter interest too. Again this is a matter of preference.

I always advise the best that you can afford, something that will add to the garden and plants, in keeping with your theme.

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How to Propagate Hardy Perennial Plants

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After flowering leave some of the plants to go to seed, teasels, grasses, echinacea, echinops add further interest through the autumn with striking seed heads. The seeds and foliage will also provide food and shelter for wildlife.

Collecting some of the seed to grow more plants from is one way of propagating plants for free.

I tend not to clear away the debris until late winter.


Propagate By Division

In spring or autumn summer flowering perennial plants can be cut back to the crown, then dig up the crown carefully and split it into several new parts to give you more plants. Plant them straight away, feed, water and mulch, they will soon be showing new signs of growth.

Spring flowering perennials can be divided in the summer when they have finished blooming

Yellow and pink waterside plants
How To Plant A Hardy Perennial Border

The following articles provide further information and inspiration to help you plant the perfect herbaceous perennials border.


Full Sun Perennial Plants That Bloom All Summer


Perennial Plants That Like A Shade Garden

Bees and Butterflies and other pollinators and wildlife will benefit from your new border too, they will find food, shelter and habitat amongst the flowers and foliage.  Choose bees and butterfly plants to attract these essential creatures into the garden.

I hope that this article has given you some inspiration for planting your garden borders with a riot of colourful and scented flowers that will delight all summer long.

If you have any questions or want to add your views and ideas then please drop me a message in the comments box below.

Please share with friends and family and on social media, let’s share the joy of gardening.

Happy Gardening

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