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by Pernell Gerver

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"The Best Spring-Blooming Perennials for Sun"

Spring-blooming perennials provide some of the earliest color in the flower garden. Many bloom alongside the spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils and early tulips and are wonderful companions. Spring-blooming perennials return year after year in the garden. This week the focus is on spring-blooming perennials for sun. Click on a plant name to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Pink Fringed bleeding heart is a spring-blooming perennial that begins blooming very early in the season. I've seen it in bloom in my garden as early as late March. It has medium-green, finely-divided foliage that forms a handsome clump. Large, bleeding-heart-shaped flowers are held in clusters on stems that stand above the foliage. Unlike the common bleeding heart that goes dormant after blooming leaving a hole in the garden, fringed bleeding heart blooms from early spring to frost, making it one of the longest-blooming perennials in the garden.

White fringed bleeding heartIn addition to pink, there is also a white fringed bleeding heart. It has the same attractive foliage with white bleeding-heart-shaped flowers that stand above the foliage. It too blooms from very early spring right to frost.


Phlox subulata 'Candy Stripe'Moss phlox is a early-to-mid-spring-blooming perennial that thrives in sunny spots. It's a low-growing perennial that forms a dense mat. The variety 'Candy Stripe' has unique bicolor flowers. The flowers are white with a pink stripe running down each petal. It blooms in early to mid spring and is virtually covered in flowers when in bloom.


Dianthus is a mid- to late-spring-blooming perennial. The variety 'Bath's Pink' is an attractive, low-growing dianthus with silvery-gray foliage that is a nice addition to the flower bed or border, even when it's not in bloom. In late spring and early summer, single, fragrant, pink flowers stand a foot above the foliage. The strong fragrance resembles cloves - plant it where you can enjoy it!

Bearded iris bloom in mid to late spring. One of the nicest ones is Iris pallida. It's a stunning, variegated iris. Its sword-like foliage is green with a wide, creamy-yellow center. Tall flower stems carry violet-blue flowers. The flowers have a sweet fragrance reminiscent of grapes. The flowers are a striking combination with the foliage. Even when not in bloom, this iris has something to offer the garden.

Peonies are the queens of the late-spring-blooming perennials. There are many different varieties of peonies and one of the showiest is 'Raspberry Sundae.' Its double flowers have a single row of light-pink-to-white outer petals with a cluster of ruffled, raspberry-pink center petals. The flowers really do look like a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with raspberries. The flowers are six inches wide or more and very fragrant.


Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Camellia Grows Best in Cool Temperatures"

Q. I received a camellia as a gift in February. Recently the leaves have been turning black and falling off. The temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees in the room. The soil is damp. What can be done, if anything? Thanks!

A. While temperatures in the 68- to 72-degree range are ideal for us, they are much too warm for camellia. Ideally, daytime temperatures in the lower 60s with nighttime temperatures as low as 45 degrees are best. For this reason, camellia can be a little difficult to grow well in the home. Grow it in the coolest room of the house or on an enclosed porch or cool sunroom in bright, filtered light. Increase humidity around the plant by setting the pot on a tray of moistened pebbles.

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