Cody Craddock: Conditions of planting site for perennials will play role in success

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 22, 2022

By Cody Craddock
N.C. Cooperative Extension

A question I seem to get a lot from folks is, “What perennials can I grow on my property?” There really is not a “one size fits all” answer since everyone’s situation is a little different. However, there are a couple questions you should ask yourself before planting any perennials.

If you’re a homeowner, think about where these plants are being established — if it’s in a place you think could be inconvenient later, you may want to reconsider. If you are a farmer, you probably want to see a return on your investment so you’ll want to consider if the proposed site is suitable for the crop’s needs. An unsuitable site can cause costly problems down the road, and you may never see the return on investment you’re looking for.

If you are a homeowner, you may look at an idle piece of your property and think of ways you can beatify it for your enjoyment. You may also be interested in creating an edible landscape or sensory garden. Blueberries, for example, make for a great shrub that can be both beautiful and provide some tasteful fruits. Many flowers grow well in our area and provide wonderful aromas that will fill the air. Consider creating an edible or sensory landscape of your own! If you need inspiration, come visit the Rowan County Agriculture Center and see the gardens planted around our office.

If you are a farmer and you’re looking to put an unused piece of land to work, you’ll want to see a return on your investment. Perennial crops take a while to become established, and therefore do not return the investment until a few years down the road but can still be great investments.

Among others, two of the big considerations you’ll want to bear in mind is the costs of labor for these crops and the soil condition of the area you’ll be planting in. Since perennial crops stay around for a long time after they’re planted, you’ll want to make sure the planting conditions are as sweet as possible before making the investment.

For example, there are some grape vineyards around Australia that are over 150 years old. The key to long term success with these crops is making sure the crop establishes itself well in the planting site.

Some examples include grape vineyards, blueberry plantings, blackberry plantings, raspberry plantings, and tree crops. Each require a hefty investment up front that will take years to return so you’ll want to understand each crop’s demands before planting to ensure your investment is well worth it.

Your planting site’s conditions will play a major role in what crops will be successful. Factors such as drainage, soil pH, and sunlight will need to be considered. Feel free to contact NC Cooperative Extension for advice on what to plant for long term success.

If you are an avid gardener, you may consider setting up portions of your property not already in use. Perennials and other crops that come back each year may be of interest to you. Like all things, perennials have their advantages and disadvantages. Some great advantages of perennials are that they come back each year and are relatively lower maintenance than other things in your vegetable garden. Some disadvantages are that they take up space for years once established and cannot be moved, so some forethought is required. Planting perennials in your garden, such as blueberries and blackberries provide you with a bit of diversification in your garden and will be around for years to come.

If you need advice on planting perennials at home or on your farm, feel free to give us a call at 704-216-8970.

Cody Craddock is an Extension Agent in Ag/Natural Resources at the Rowan County Center of the N.C. Cooperative Extension.

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