Best Time to Plant Perennials in Michigan Garden

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Best Time to Plant Perennials in Michigan

Learning the best time to plant perennials in Michigan, is key to helping your plants grow and thrive throughout the year. No matter if you are starting a new flower bed, or looking to divide some of your existing perennials, it is best to know when the ideal time is to plant your perennials so they do not die. Instead you want them to grow and thrive so that you can enjoy them for many years to come.

flowering hosta in the flowerbed

There are two main times of the year that work best to plant perennials in Michigan. Out of these two times of the year, there are pros and cons for each, and you may have your personal preference as well. The two best times to plant perennials in Michigan are in the early spring months, or in the early fall months.

Before we dive into the best times to plant your perennials in Michigan, it’s important to point out that not all plants are perennials, and even if they are labeled a perennial, they may not always grow as perennials in Michigan due to the significant weather changes throughout the year. Let’s first look at the hardiness zones of Michigan.

Hardiness Zones

The hardiness zones of the United States are developed by the US Department of Agriculture. Through these hardiness zones, they have developed a map of the United States and labeled different parts of the United States with zones. These zones are used to determine what plants will survive as annuals and perennials in the different locations.

For example, plants that those of us who live in Michigan might think of it as annuals or even house plants can grow year-round outdoors in locations such as Florida or California. Because of the colder climate of Michigan, it requires that heartier plants be designated as perennials, and those perennials must be able to weather both cold and hot temperature changes in order to survive through these cold temperatures found in Michigan.

Michigan as a state has both the lower peninsula and the upper peninsula. On the USDA plant hardiness zone map, the State of Michigan, depending on where you live, can be in zones 7a – 4a depending on where you live. You can use these zones to determine if a plant will survive at your location when you are shopping for perennials either online or at your garden supply store.

What are Perennial Plants?

Perennial plants are a type of plant or flower that can be planted once and will continue to grow year after year. Perennials are different from annuals because they will continue to come back each growing season, whereas annuals are just enjoyed for one growing season.

This is nice because you can enjoy the new plants that you have purchased for more than one year. This means that the money you spend on it goes a lot farther, and you get much more enjoyment from perennials. Another great thing about perennials is that many of them don’t need a lot of hands-on attention. 

purple cone flower

Once they are planted, you can simply weed and enjoy them every year. Plus, it’s some perennials like hostas will grow so much so that after a few years, you can divide them and have an entire plant that can be divided from the previous plant to make a whole new plant.

Other types of perennials produce their own seeds and continue to drop them so that they grow and expand year after year. Some examples of this would be black-eyed susans, or purple cone flowers, in addition to many other types of perennial flowers that produce seeds. 

You can find perennials available for purchase at your garden centers, just make sure to look for the perennial label rather than annual. Likely, if the perennials are being sold at your local garden center, then they are safe to plant in your location, but it never hurts to double-check!

There are many different varieties of perennials out there. Some of my favorite perennials include the black-eyed susan, echinacea, hostas, and lilies. There are many different varieties of perennials, some flower, and others are just beautiful greenery. Make sure to check out all of the beautiful options out there, to see what some of your favorite perennials are! 

Now that you know the general idea of what a perennial is, as well as plant hardiness zones, let’s look at some of the best times to plant perennials, especially in Michigan.

When to Plant Perennials in Michigan

As a general rule, there are two main times when you can plant perennials in Michigan. Those two best times of the year are in the spring, and in the fall. 

In the spring, the best time of year to plant during the spring is while the weather is still cool, but the chance of a hard freeze is gone for the year. The other good time of year to plant perennials is in the fall. 

When planting in the fall, it is best done before the first hard freeze of the year as well. Once the weather has cooled, so that it is not as hot as summer, but still warm, the warm soil temperatures will also give you good results for planting in the fall.

Even though these are both acceptable times of the year to plant perennials in Michigan, it’s important to point out that there are some pros and cons associated with planting perennials during these seasons. 

Let’s take a look at each one of these in detail. 

white lily

Spring Planting

There are definitely some specific types of plants that are best planted in the early spring. This is especially true of perennials that are actually spring flowering bulbs. These can be planted both in the fall, the year before you want to enjoy the flowers, or very early in the spring, so that you can enjoy spring flowers that same year.

I did this this past year with daffodils. I found a great deal on them at a local store, and the ground had thawed enough in February, then I went out and planted them. This spring I got to enjoy beautiful spring flowers from those bulbs.

Though it is important to point out that not all bulbs will flower when they are planted like this, some will need time to establish their roots before they flower, and let’s be honest, it’s not very often that the ground thaws out in February or March in Michigan. 

When determining if you should plant your perennials in the spring, keep in mind that different plants do better when planted in the spring as opposed to the fall. If you are dealing with late blooming perennials, then those hearty perennials can likely be planted in the late spring.

In order to enjoy your perennials that same year, and let them get their root system established, then you will likely want to plant them around the same time is annual flowers. This is typically in the late spring to early summer months usually, around the middle of May, or after the last frost date.

In some locations, you can even plant them in early April. It all depends on what part of Michigan you are in, and if the chance of frost has passed, or at least you are no longer at risk of a hard freeze for the year. 

Typically, in Michigan, you’re not going to want to plant perennials in March, if you want to still enjoy them that same year. It is better to consider planting them later in April or May depending on where you are located in Michigan.

If you’re planting new perennials, it’s best to wait till after the chance of a hard freeze is gone for the year, and even after the chance of frost has passed for the year. This way you don’t have to worry about it killing your plants that don’t have an established root system yet. 

Once the root system is established, then you don’t have to worry about it as much in the years to follow, because the perennials will grow back from the route if the frost or freeze hurts the plants. 

little yellow flowers

Tips for Spring Planting

Water Often. One of the downsides of planting your perennials in the spring is that you will need to be sure to give them extra water during the growing season. Because their root systems are not yet established, they need a lot more water to be able to survive the warm weather of the summer months. 

Root Ball. When planting your flowers, or other types of perennials it’s important that you loosen the root ball before planting in the ground. This helps the plant to be able to establish its root system much more easily when it is not root bound.

Dig the Hole Big Enough. Another key aspect when planting perennials in the spring is to make sure that your planting hole is large enough. The hole in which you intend to put the plant should be much larger than the pot. This will give your plant the advantage because the dirt around the roots is loose, which allows it to establish its root system much more easily.

Planting in the Fall

There are some advantages to planting during the fall season as opposed to the spring months. When you plant perennials in the early fall, at the tail end of the growing season you have warmer soil for the plants to establish their roots in, which helps the root systems get established before the ground freezes for the year.

Another great thing about planting perennials in the early fall, is that the late summer heat has mostly passed, and you will not have to worry about watering the new growth of the perennials nearly as much as you do in the spring, to help the plant maintain a healthy route system. 

Planting the perennials in the fall helps them to get established, so that the following spring when plants come up for the year, you can enjoy happy and healthy plants that have weathered the winter months. This way, the plants don’t need too much water during the summer months.

Planting perennial flower bulbs in the fall is also ideal because you get to enjoy the beautiful spring blooms the following spring or summer depending on the type of flower. Any bulbs that you want to enjoy the next growing season are going to be best when planted during the fall season.

Another great thing about planting perennials in the fall in Michigan is that you can often find your perennial plants at a discount, meaning that you don’t have to pay as much for your plants if you are buying and planting them in the fall. Most people want instant gratification, meaning that when they buy plants in the spring, they want to enjoy them right now. Although this is fun to do, it is a lot harder to keep plants alive and keep them watered throughout the hot summer months when they are newly planted.

It is my personal experience that fall-planted perennials are going to have much more chance of surviving until the next season, without dying out during the hot months of summer. If you have the patience and want your Michigan garden to flourish, often planting your perennials during the fall planting times is going to be much easier on you and the plants.

white cone flower

When is the Best Time to Plant Perennials in Michigan?

Perennials in Michigan can be planted both in the spring months or in the fall season. Spring is nice because you get to enjoy the plants right away, but you might have to keep them watered and fight to keep them alive during the hot summer months. 

There are some plants that must be planted in the spring, but often perennials will survive much better when they are planted in the fall. Planting perennials in the fall in Michigan is my personal choice because plants tend to survive much better. 

It’s entirely up to your matter of preference as to what the best to plant perennials is in Michigan, whether it’s in the spring, which is an excellent choice, or in the fall season before the winter season hits. 

If you have the perennials in the ground, before the first frost of the year, in most cases, the plant will do well. Please note that you will want to double-check what specific type of plant you are growing in Michigan, to determine what exactly the best time to plant a perennial is.

Tips for Growing New Perennials

When you were planting, new perennials there are a few tips that you want to keep in mind. First, you will want to make sure that the soil you are planting the perennials in as well draining. 

Next, consider using some organic matter or well-rotten manure to fertilize the plants in their new location. Finally, make sure that you are watering the plants enough so that they can stay alive and thrive, but be careful that you don’t overwater the perennials to make them have root rot or other issues.

Perennial flowers are a great addition to your flowerbeds. They are ideal because they will continue growing year after year, and even expanding, so that you can later divide and multiply the plants if desired. Giving your perennials a good start will help them grow and thrive.

When should you Divide Perennials?

You can divide different types of perennials, especially ones that continue to expand and multiply like hostas. The best time of year to divide perennials is in the fall.

This way the soil temperature is warm, and will help with the root growth of the new plants. The new roots will need a chance to get established before the winter temperatures set in. It’s important that you divide perennials in the fall because it can be a traumatic experience for the plants, and they will need a chance to recover, which is difficult to do during warmer months. 

Best Times to Plant Perennials in Michigan

There are two main times that you can plant perennials in Michigan, for the best results. That is to plant the perennials in the spring, preferably the early spring before the warm weather hits for the year, or in the fall season, before the first frost of the year. Each of these seasons has its pros and cons. It is entirely a matter of your personal preference as to whether you prefer to plant your perennials in the spring or in the fall. 

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About the author

Hi! My name is Faith, I am the creator behind My Sweet and Saucy. I have so many different things that I enjoy doing, and this is my space to share them all with you. I really hope you enjoy it! Thank you so much for stopping by!

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