converting home garden area to perennial wildflowers/plants

Asked October 24, 2017, 10:51 AM EDT

I'm looking for suggestions on what and how to plant perennials for a 20'x30' area used for vegetable garden for the past 25 years. no shade. composted annually with leaves or manure. color variety, height variety and some staggered blooming desired as well as items to benefit bees and butterflies and birds. no pesticides used during gardening years. thank you. Beth Kempf

Jefferson County Kentucky wildflowers and native plants

1 Response

A wildflower, butterfly or perennial garden would work well in the 500 sq ft area you have described. It sounds as if the garden area has good soil with plenty of organic matter so it should be ready to plant this spring. This would be an opportunity to consider several different types of plants based on personal preference.

Start with the basics and consider perennials that grow will in full sun. There are many to choose from: https://barren.ca.uky.edu/files/perennials_for_sunny_locations.pdf

Bulbs can provide splashes of color through the spring and summer, grow in a variety of heights and color and require minimal care.
http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/ho/ho80/ho80.pdf

Attracting butterflies is another option that will also attract pollinators to your garden. Just remember that attracting butterflies also means the their larvae or caterpillars will also be feeding in the garden. How to plant a butterfly garden: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/files/efpdf1/ef006.pdf
Attracting butterflies with native plants: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/for/for98/for98.pdf

Roses can be a colorful addition to a perenial garden providing color the entire growing season. http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id118/id118.pdf

Ornamental grasses can provide vertical texture and fall interest: https://simpson.ca.uky.edu/files/ornamental_grasses_for_ky_landscapes.pdf

A blooming shrub could also be a focal point within you garden. Lilacs, hydrangeas, spireas, and hardy hibiscus are just a few that can add structure and depth to a garden. Take care in selection and note the size your chosen plant will reach at maturity to avoid over crowding.

You have plenty of time to plan and design a perennial garden. Whether you shop at your neighborhood nursery or browse online, there are many options with new colors, textures and cultivars offered each year. Good luck and have fun with it!

Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.

Let me know if I can help you further!


Carol Wilder
Horticulture Technician
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
Email: carol.wilder@uky.edu

502-569-2344
200 Juneau Drive

Louisville KY 40243