Most perennials require a cut back before the next year’s growth emerges in the spring. You can choose to cut them down to four to six inches in height in the fall or early spring – it’s your call. Our display garden here at Griffin’s Greenhouses is cut back in the fall because we don’t have time to do it in the spring and we prefer the look of a clean landscape over winter. You may choose to leave up all perennials or even just certain ones (ornamental grasses and hydrangeas, for example) and deal with them in the spring.
To cut back a perennial, use sharp cutters or shears and remove the foliage from the remaining stalks. Perennials that don’t need cutting back include low growing ground covers such as sedum, thyme and hens ‘n chicks. Unsure if your flowering shrubs can be cut back? Do call a good garden centre for advice.
Tender summer bulbs such as dahlias and cannas are removed, scrubbed free of excess soil and left in the outdoor sun to dry for about a week. Store them in a paper bag in a cool location indoors for the winter. Tropical plants can be sprayed with preventative insecticidal soap and gradually brought to a sunny window inside your home.
When beds are empty of annuals and excess perennial foliage, spots to plant spring flowering bulbs can be decided. Adding tulips and daffodils which will bloom in April and early May is a fabulous way to add succession of bloom to your garden.
Lastly, shredded leaves can be raked into beds as protection in case we get a winter without snow – yes, snow is our friend and it insulates the plants! Leaf mulch should be hilled around the base of roses and tender perennials (Rose of Sharon and perennial hibiscus) around mid-November, as one of the last tasks of the season.
By Vikki Whitney, Owner of Griffin’s Greenhouses 705-652-8638 or 1-877-647-4334