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  • Writer's picturedarcygrahek

Perennials vs Annuals at the Coast

We can all do a lot on our patch of land to help pollinators survive their own “pandemic” times. Wildflowers once flourished alongside edges; edge of a road, or forest, or waterway, or anywhere the sun could shine for enough hours. Native perennials can be mowed once or twice a year, but not sprayed if you want pollinators. Populations have been decimated over the years due to a variety of problems such as over-management with sprays and mowing as well as an invasive species occupying all the spaces of land available.

Areas of your property that you might not plant because of lack of water could be encouraged to grow native flowers, also known as “forbs”. Annual flowers grow and bloom from seed, completing their life cycle in one year. Throw out seed on bare ground anytime in the Fall or Spring. If they are happy in that spot, they will re-populate themselves although a few species always seem to dominate that space.

Perennials live year after year, increasing their patch and amount of bloom each year. Perennials, including native species, hold a beautiful show of flowers each year at the appropriate time for each particular species. Often about a month of bloom, flowering can be extended by dead-heading (cutting off spent flowers). Perennials spread by both seed and root, some species faster than others, and so each year your patch increases its bloom.

Here on our southern Oregon coast, perennials bloom from about February to November with variations depending on your micro-climate and the average daily temperature. The root systems are sensitive to the changes of soil temperature. According to Sunset Gardening*, our marine-influenced weather gives us slow swings of ground temperature, cooling slowly in Fall and heating slowly in Spring. We do not have the daily high temperatures of warmer places inland nor the sustained cold nights. Perennials are best planted in Fall here, giving them time to get adapted to their placement so they are all ready for growth when soil has accumulated a consistent warm temperature. Once they get their roots settled, they are poised to make a statement with their flowers!

*Sunset Gardening zones

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