Some of my flowers I have had for 40 years or so. 

They can usually be moved around the yard to give them new soil. Whenever I move a plant, I like to dig compost into that area to improve its water holding, add nutrients (fertilizer) for the new plant, and leave behind any soil diseases of the leaving plant.

          Bee Balm (Monarda sp.) is one of my first plants. Mine are middle sized plants, about 3 feet tall, bright red, dark and light lavender, or pink. I have read there is a white one.  “Bee Balm” spreads its clumps slowly with strong stems that do not flop.  They do well in full sun or light shade, beloved of bees, butterflies, and humming birds. For Humming Birds, red is their favorite color.  If you don’t want tall ones there are several dwarfs that run from 13 to 15 inches in height. The variety “Jacob Kline” is a bright red and may get 3 to 4 feet tall. It is my favorite of course.

          Going out at night with a flashlight you can find bumblebees sleeping in the flowers.  By dead heading you can have a second, smaller crop of flowers.

          It is easy to dig a plant from the edge of a clump to move or to give away.  If you are buying, check the label for mildew resistance or use a fungicide. 

          Another plant I have had for fifty years or more is Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida or hirta). This is a 2 to 2 1 /2 foot native that in full sun can slowly form a large, gorgeous clump. It blooms for weeks in bright yellow around a black center without flopping. The “hirta” species is also called “Gloriosa Daisy” because it has many red, mahogany, or even green ray flowers. I like to start certain ones from seed that bloom the first year to get the variety of colors in the petals.  They usually do not live as long as the original “Susan” given to me.

          When we bought our house many years ago with a chain link fence, a friend gave me a Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata). It blooms from August to September, and covers the fence in dainty, white blooms that can be smelled (yummy) fifty feet away.  Those blooms produce fuzzy seed heads that make neat flower arrangements. From that original plant I have probably given away at least fifty plants and there are many more every spring! They cover the entire fence at least 6 feet wide in four spots. I pull up a number of them every spring. These plants do well in full sun or light shade.

          Peonies are another plant you can have in the same place for 30 to 40 years with them still doing well.  Many want their Peonies to bloom for Memorial Day. If they are going to be early, they can be cut and put in a plastic bag in the refrigerator to maintain their timing.  You can have a long season of blooms by planting early and late varieties.

          There are a few rules to get them to bloom. First, sometimes a new plant will take at least three years. Second, they can not be planted too deep. The pink tips should have no more than 2 inches of soil over the top of them.  Third, ants love to crawl around to get the sap and honey-dew as the buds develop. However, ants are not required in order for the plant to bloom. Fourth, do not cut the leaves off early as they produce food for the plant through photosynthesis. Wait until frost or they turn brown or you will weaken the plant and it may not bloom the next year.

          Tree Peonies have woody branches that must not be cut back in the fall. I have seen some that are eight feet tall and wide. Mine blooms before the herbaceous ones, with big double blooms of red, yellow, and lavender.

          If you need a “forever” plant for shade, the Hosta will do.  They come in hundreds of leaf shapes, shades of green, blue, or yellow, from tiny ones 6 inches tall to huge leaves up to four feet tall.  They like moisture to do their best but can withstand some drouth waiting for rain. Some species can survive to minus 40 degrees F. The blooms are not ugly but never receive much praise so can be cut back at any time.

          The plants are very easy to get a new one. Divide a plant just as it comes up in the spring and the divisions can be easily seen. Watch your labels as there are some Hostas that can stand sun. Hybridizers come up with new species every spring. I have read of Hostas being in the same spot as long as 30 years.

          Slugs are their worst enemy but now there is “Sluggo” (Iron Phosphate) or “Escar-go” (Iron Phosphate) that are organic and not poisonous to pets. You can also put a board or piece of burlap down under the leaves and slugs will gather on the underside. Every morning pick the slugs off the underside of the board or burlap and drop them in a container of soapy water.

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