Perennials Not to Feed

Certain perennials do not benefit from additional fertilizer. Before you spring-feed your garden, review this list of perennials not to feed.

Most perennials don’t need a lot of feeding, particularly if the soil is healthy and rich and was prepared well at planting time. A spring top-dressing of compost may do the trick. In areas with poor soil, a once-annual application of granular fertilizer in spring will suffice for most perennials. Exceptions include “heavy feeders” such as mums, lupines, lilies, delphiniums, astilbe and border phlox.

Perennials that do best with no supplement fertilizer include butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), false indigo (Baptisia australis), asters, pinks (Dianthus spp.), rock roses (Helianthemum spp.), sea holly (Eryngium spp.), bee balm (Monarda didyma), speedwell (Veronica spp.), coneflowers (Echinacea spp. and Rudbeckia spp.) and all ornamental grasses.

Learn more about perennial gardening with our special pack, Proper Plant Selection and Maintenance, which includes a CD on perennials, a book and registration in Garden How-To University.

Limit your reliance on fertilizers by improving your soil. Learn how with Horticulture‘s downloadable Soil pdf.

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4 thoughts on “Perennials Not to Feed

  1. It’s also important to note that while some perennials may not need fertilizer, if you have poor soil, don’t skip (or skimp) on regularly adding organic amendments. I’ve seen clay soil beds that received lots of organic matter at planting time, but without annual topdressing they quickly revert back to hard, brick-red clay. Clay is full of nutrients, yes. But without organic matter to buffer the pH, those nutrients are unavailable to plants, and the soil is either water-logged or bone dry. That’s no way to treat perennials if you want them to grow well and remain healthy from year to year.

  2. Thanks for the valuable information. However, I found the post to be confusingly organized. Headline; what NOT to feed, followed in the first paragraph by a list of ones that BENEFIT from fertilizer. Only in the next para do we see a list of “perennials that do best with no supplement[al] fertilizer.”

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