Perennials You Should Cut Back in the Fall.
You may be hooked on the idea of picking up shears or shears for your lovely plants, but cutting them back in the fall is actually a good thing. It improves plant health and can improve yield or flowering. But not all perennials should be cut back.
Cutting some plants in the fall can ruin next year’s crop or even flowers!
Read on to learn why it is important to prune some perennial species, as well as tips on how to do so.
Why is it important to cut back perennials?
Pruning perennials isn’t exactly important, but it is good for their overall health. Additionally, cutting them back after they have finished the year’s growth cycle can beautify your garden as well.
Perennial plants grow from year to year, but that doesn’t mean their annual growth will last all season. Even evergreens will grow foliage, flowers, and then drop old-growth and spent flowers. As you can imagine, this means they will accumulate rotting debris around them.
In addition, bits that have not fallen off but begin to rot on the stem can infect the plant from root to bottom. As you can imagine, this will do no good for the good of your garden. Keep your perennials well-trimmed and they’ll be sure to keep growing big and healthy as annuals for years to come.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Clean, sharp garden shears and/or pruning shears
- rubbing alcohol wipes or a 1:10 mixture of bleach and water to clean your snips when you’re done
- Gardening gloves (some species expel sap that can be irritating to the skin)
- A basket or bucket for collecting detritus for a compost pile or a burn pile
Vegetables and edible flowers
If you want the following edible perennials to flourish, you definitely want to prune this fall.
Beautiful (and delicious!) daylilies (hemerocallis spp.) Annuals do much better when you cut them back in the fall. Once they finish flowering in mid-September, cut them a few inches above soil level. Mulch to protect them over winter, and they will re-activate when warm weather returns.
this plant (Foeniculum vulgare) is grown for both ornamental and edible purposes. It is also a favourite food source for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. They often completely remove the plant by fall, but if they haven’t, cut it back to the soil level.
If you haven’t eaten all your hostas (Hosta spp.) By the time the first frost rolls around—yes, they’re edible—take out your pieces. Cut these to 6 inches above soil level, and remove any fallen debris. You can compost it, burn it, or pack it in yard waste bags for local pick-up.
Although many people grow mums as an ornamental, these plants are also edible. In fact, many people grow fragrant, flavorful varieties such as chrysanthemum morifoliumAndchrysanthemum sign Especially for tea. Additionally, garland chrysanthemum greens (Chrysanthemum Coronaria) are popular in many Asian cuisines.
Whatever species you are growing, cut them back to about 5 or 6 inches above soil level. Then mulch around them to protect their roots from the winter chill.
While most sunflowers are annuals, Helianthus x Laetiflorus And H. salicifolium Keep coming back year after year. However, when you cut off their heads to harvest their seeds, those tall stalks will be waving around. Plus, those canes will seem very attractive to less-than-cute insects looking for winter shelter.
Cut them down to soil level and either compost or burn the canes. Alternatively, if you’re feeling ambitious and the canes are too strong, you can try using them to make some woven fish basket nets.
waste want Not!
Like their perennial sunflower cousin above, sanchok (Helianthus tuberosus) Grow massive canes that need to be cut to soil level after the growing season is over. After doing so, you can collect their tuberous roots to make delicious soups and roasts.
Burn or compost the cane, and overwinter the root areas with straw to allow them to overwinter.
Medicinal and culinary herbs and flowers
For some reason, many people forget to categorize perennials as herbs. But your oregano and chives will do much better if you give them the hard work!
these beauties (Monarda spp.) are known to attract hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other native pollinators. They are also powerful medicinal plants that are important to one’s healing garden.
Once you have made your cutting, cut the stems back to soil level. If there is any sign of mildew on the stems, burn them instead of adding them to your compost pile. Then treat the surrounding soil with an organic fungicide so the pathogen doesn’t spread through the winter months.
nepeta katariaA beloved member of the mint family, it does best if it is cut back to about 2 inches above soil level before the first frost hits. Otherwise, its fleshy leaves and any remaining flowers will dissolve into an unpleasant pulp when a cold snap hits.
While oregano (originum vulgareTougher than its catnip cousin, it still does best when it is trimmed back enthusiastically before autumn really settles down. Its taste and aroma will largely disappear after flowering. Once the bees are done with it, cut it back to 2 inches or so above soil level. Unless you are in growing zone 3 or below, you don’t need to mulch it.
These Delicious Garlic Alliums (allium schoenoprasum) grow abundantly all summer. Harvest their pink flowers to add to salads and soups, then chop their tube-like leaves to cut into omelets, baked potatoes, and more. Once the first frost hits, cut the entire plant back down to soil level so it doesn’t become pulpy in your herb bed.
dude (Achillea Millefolium) is one of the best healing allies around, but it becomes downright dangerous if left in the garden for too long. If there is any stem or flower left after harvesting its part for the season, cut the entire plant down to soil level.
Compost or burn the trimmings, and leave the rest of the plant alone. This herb is remarkably hardy and will bounce back abundantly the next growing season.
Although many people are peons (peons)Paeonia sp.) In the “ornamental” category, many herbalists grow various species for their healing properties. They are prone to mildew in cool, moist fall weather, so once you’ve harvested the crops you need, be sure to clean them up.
When leaves begin to turn yellowish-golden, leaving only a few inches above the soil surface, cut back in a week or so. If your winters are harsh, cover the bases with mulch, and they’ll jump into great shape when the weather warms up again next spring.
Don’t forget to cut back those lovely ornamental perennials in your garden. Not only does it make everything look neater, but you might even get a better display next year.
If you grow hollyhock (Malwa Linseed) in your garden, you are probably well aware of how big they get. However, they can look downright weird once they bloom, so it’s best to cut them back to ground level. If you are in zone 5 below, mulch around their bases.
These beautiful flowers clematis recta) creeps all over in the summer, offering great bursts of color wherever they roam. The downside is that as cold weather approaches, they turn into slimy slime. Cut them back to soil level as soon as they stop blooming and fertilize the cuttings.
Painted Daisy (tanacetum coccineum) from mid-summer to late autumn can bring a spectacular shade of color to your garden. Once they finish blooming, however, they will turn dark brown and completely unsightly. Cut them back to about 3 inches above soil level and leave them. They will grow gorgeous again the following spring.
These water-loving irises (iris germanica) they turn slimy and black after their blooming cycle ends. In addition, they are host to many different fungal pathogens and sugarcane-boring insects. Cut them completely from root to bottom as soon as their flowers begin to fade, and burn or discard the cuttings.
Notes on How to Prune Your Plants in the Fall
Remember to always use clean, disinfected shears or snips to cut your plants. Additionally, clean each species after cutting them so you don’t risk cross-contaminating plants with any potential pathogens.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to keep a few alcohol swab packets in your pocket or apron while you’re done. When you’re done cutting one species, ditch your tool right away, and then move on to the next. This may seem like an annoying extra step, but it can be a big deal for the overall health of your plants.
Additionally, remember that not all perennial plants should be cut back in the fall. Ornamental alliums, echinacea and goldenrod are all valuable seed-bearing species that provide wild food for birds during the colder months. Leave these alone so that their seed heads can be raised during the winter. Then cut them back in early spring to allow new growth to occur.
As a final note, be sure to do your research to determine if your perennials are cut back in spring or fall. Some are sensitive to cold and need to keep their leaves during the winter months.