Fall Perennial Garden / Flower Care

What to do when-

September

  • Edge beds
  • Water as necessary
  • Move and divide plants
  • Cutback

October/November

  • Weed and water as necessary
  • Mulch
  • Winterize the garden after the ground is frozen (late November or December depending on your area)

 

Fall Perennial Garden Care

Fall is on the way and perennial flowers have done their work for the year. Leaves drop, blooms wilt and it seems that everything is done, but it does not end there. There are many ways to help your perennial plants survive the winter and reward you with new growth in the spring.

 

Clean Up Tips

When the hosta has dissolved into piles of wilted leaves and other plants become naked sticks in the garden, the first instinct of many gardeners is to clean up everything. Consider the option of waiting until spring to prune down plants such as ornamental grasses & sedums, as they can provide winter interest in the garden if the growth is left until the spring.

Any plant that had a disease problem, like rust or powdery mildew, should have its dead foliage removed and thrown away. If you don’t want the winter interest from ornamental grasses, you can cut them back to a few inches above the ground. Remove tall seed pods or flower stems as well, if winter interest isn’t desired. All annual plants that were used as filler should be removed. Weed your perennial flower beds thoroughly and edge them.

If you must, you can carefully remove dead foliage from many perennial plants after they have gone dormant. Don’t yank out leaves; cut them off or you may uproot or damage the plant. Some plants, like heuchera, dianthus, thyme, ajuga and lamium, have leaves that remain green through the winter. These are best left alone.

Carefully trim off semi-woody perennial plants, like chrysanthemums, to about six inches above ground to avoid damage to buds growing near stem bases. These plants may actually survive better if you do not trim them until spring.

Leave lavender, rosemary, sage, creeping sedums, clematis and other vines until spring. Also leave shrub and landscape rose pruning until spring. You can cut buddleias back aggressively. For other woody perennials, leave any pruning until spring. Some varieties will only bloom on existing growth, so pruning could wind up costing you a full complement of spring blooms.

Dividing & Thinning

While most plants like to be divided in the spring, some are best divided after bloom.  These include oriental poppies, Siberian iris, bearded iris, and true lilies (not daylilies).  Peonies are best divided in the fall.

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