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Getting the best from your perennial plants

Group of colourful cottage garden perennials

At Suttons, our perennial plants are sold in a number of ways. You can choose from plug plants, jumbo plug plants, 9cm plants, 1 litre plants, 2 litre plants and sometimes even 3 litre plants. The smaller plugs will need potting on, while the larger, garden-ready container perennials can be planted out as soon as you like. Here’s how to get the most from your perennial plants. 

Browse our full range of perennial plants to find traditional favourites and exciting new varieties.

How to get the best from perennial plug plants

Cheaper than garden-ready plants in containers and much faster than seeds, perennial plug plants are a popular way to fill beds, borders and containers. 

  • Unpack your plugs straight away and stand them in a tray of water (at room temperature) until the soil is moist.
  • Tiny plug plants should be transplanted into 7.5cm pots or 9cm pots. Don’t be tempted to use larger pots as your plants will be slower to establish. 
  • Use good quality compost mixed with perlite for drainage. 
  • Water gently and allow your plants to grow bigger for a month or so on a warm windowsill or in a bright greenhouse.
  • If the roots start to emerge from the drainage holes, they need to be potted on again into a slightly larger pot. 
  • Keep your plants watered and, after a couple of weeks, give them a balanced liquid feed to keep them growing strongly. 
  • Don’t forget to harden your plants off before planting out into their final positions. 
  • Hardy perennial jumbo plugs can usually be planted out straight away if you’re short on space, but they develop stronger roots if you grow them on in a large pot for a couple of weeks.

How to get the best from pot-grown perennial plants

Dark purple salvia in terracotta pot
This hardy perennial is the perfect front of border plant and loved by pollinators
Image: Salvia ‘Salvatore Deep Blue’ from Suttons

Our garden-ready perennial plants are supplied in a variety of pot sizes from 9cm to 3 litres. See a description of all Suttons different plant sizes here. These plants have been carefully raised by our horticultural team to ensure they get off to a flying start. Requiring no extra growing time, they can be moved straight out into their final positions in beds, borders or patio containers. 

  • Garden-ready perennials can be planted all year round but they’ll require less watering in spring and autumn. Wait for a cool day if you’re planting mid-summer. 
  • Carefully remove the plants from their containers and handle them by their roots rather than the stems. Remove excess soil from the root ball. 
  • Use your fingers to gently tease out the roots. This helps them to spread and establish quickly once planted. 
  • Some of the largest 2 and 3 litre perennials may be suitable for dividing into several plants straight away.
  • Dig over the planting area and rake in a good general fertiliser. Plant your perennials at the same depth they were growing in the pot. 
  • Firm the plant in to remove air pockets and make sure the roots are in contact with the soil.
  • Water well to settle the soil around the roots and keep your new plants well-watered during dry spells.
  • Apply a thick mulch to retain moisture and reduce the number of weeds. 

We hope this has given you plenty of food for thought. Take a look at our Top Five Perennial Plants for a bit of inspiration and browse our full range of high quality perennial plants if you want to be spoiled for choice!

Lead image: Nurserymans Choice Perennial Cottage Garden Collection from Suttons/©Visions BV, Netherlands

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