If you are still looking to work on your garden even after your final cleanup, you could try cutting back perennials. Many of them can be pruned either in fall or spring. This can help your landscape look more attractive if the leaves are dead and drooping. It can also keep the plant healthier since some pests and diseases tend to attack the plant or use it as a cozy home until winter is over.
First, you need to determine if you should be cutting back each perennial in fall or spring. If you have one with attractive fruit or foliage, you will likely want to leave it alone to keep the four season interest going. If it has seedheads present, these will help visiting wildlife survive through the winter.
If you do decide that you need to do some pruning, Cornell University says to “cut back most perennials to about 3 inches from the ground. Any closer may damage crowns.” Use a sharp pair of hand pruners or loppers to trim away. Clean up all of the foliage that you remove to discourage diseases and pests.
Examples of Perennials to Cut Back in Fall:
- Bearded iris
- Bee balm
- Siberian iris
Examples of Perennials to Cut Back in Spring:
- Bishop’s hat
- European ginger
- Hardy geranium
- Lenten rose
- Moss phlox
- Ornamental grasses
- Some sedums
Are you cutting back perennials in fall or spring? What has worked best in your garden?
Image by Vanessa Myers