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#140: Top 5 Perennial Mistakes with Dave Dowling

by | May 24, 2022


In this episode, I sit down with my good friend Dave Dowling to discuss the top five mistakes that people tend to make with perennial cut flower plants. Whether you’re a home gardener or a commercial cut-flower grower, Dave offers tips for avoiding these common perennial planting mistakes:

1. Not having weed management practices in place. You can’t use chemical treatments on perennial beds, you’ll need physical methods of weed prevention that match the growth habit of the plant (clump-forming vs. spreading).

2. Planting a perennial in the wrong place. Pay attention to the particular sun and water needs of each plant and place them in an environment where they’ll thrive. Recognize that there are some perennials that you will not be able to grow on your property due to environmental conditions.

3. Planting the wrong variety. Did you know that there are different varieties of perennials produced specifically for cut flowers? Make sure you’re purchasing the correct varieties that grow tall for cut flower production, not the dwarf varieties that are grown as bedding plants.

4. Not having a watering plan for your perennials. While most perennials, once established, may survive a drier season, they probably won’t thrive and may not flower at all. Perennials need regular irrigation to achieve maximum flower production.

5. Assuming that perennials are less work than growing annuals. Perennials have their own maintenance requirements, including weeding, watering, and fall cleanup. Some perennials need to be dug up and divided every few years. Some are short-lived and need to be replanted every few years.

*PRO TIP* For a decent volume of cut-flower production, Dave recommends planting at least 25 plants of each variety of perennial that you want to grow. If space is limited, planting a handful of perennial varieties in larger volumes is better than planting just a few plants of more varieties, which won’t yield enough of any one thing to sell.

Links & Mentions

Dave’s online course, published by The Gardener’s Workshop: Flower Farming School Online: Bulbs, Perennials, Woodies, and More!

Published by the ASCFG: Postharvest Handling of Cut Flowers and Greens

Purchase from Dave at Ball Colorlink: wholesale perennials for cut-flower production


The Field and Garden Podcast is produced by Lisa Mason Ziegler, award-wining author of Vegetables Love Flowers and Cool Flowers, owner of The Gardener’s WorkshopFlower Farming School Online, and the publisher of Farmer-Florist School Online and Florist School Online. Watch Lisa’s Story and connect with Lisa on social!