Perennial FAQs

November 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm Leave a comment

1. When should I cut down my perennial plants?

It is often a matter of choice, or old school preference, but the easiest way to know whether to cut down a plant in the end of season is if it has finished flowering; has browning or dying leaves; is grown leggy or too bushy.

2. How low should I cut my perennials when they are done?

In most cases, you are best to trim the fleshy stems just above the soil one or two inches.

3. How do I know it is a perennial?

Sometimes we forget, or don’t know that the plant we bought at the beginning of the season is an Annual or a Perennial. If you are not sure, and have no one to confirm it, then leave it until next year. Once the Spring returns, you will see signs of life coming from it if it is Perennial.

4. I have some tall grasses, do they need to be cut down before the snow comes?

Grasses can actually offer a beautiful “winter show”, so if you can keep them up all winter it can be very aesthetic to a normally plain winter scene. If they are in an area that will receive a high amount of snow due to shovelling/ploughing, you may want to cut them down to minimize the wear and tear and overall aesthetics. With most established grasses, leave 10% behind when cutting down.

5. My Bee Balm has a white powdery substance on it. Has this killed it?

You simply have “powdery mildew” which was quite popular on a variety of plants/shrubs/trees this season. Treat them like you would any perennial and cut them down after flowering or in the fall. It may be wise not to compost the mildew stained stems to minimize contamination elsewhere.

6. I heard that leaving my Black Eyed Susan for the winter is best, is this right?

Once again, it comes down to opinion, but I say if you like the way it looks, keep it up. The birds will appreciate it! This applies to any type of Coneflower.

7. Can I cut down perennial plants before the fall?

Often this is possible, but keep in mind how you trim plants. Flowering plants my have new blooms in waiting, and by cutting them back to the right point, you will encourage new growth within a week or two. Certain varieties that do well with this is Balloon Flower, Coreopsis, Coral Bells, Coneflowers, (but this is for another article for Spring on how to deadhead your perennials).

8. How do I know if my MUMs are perennial?

The store you bought them should have stated this, but we are not always so lucky. You can leave your MUMs in the ground until next year, and in the Spring, look for green leaves below the crown to confirm new growth. If so, cut the stems and flowers down, and plant over until they come out in late August early September. Note: I have yet to see a returning MUM look exactly the same as it did originally, they usually come out a little taller and skinnier.

9. I have a bunch of Lamb’s Ear and it is looking really blah, what should I do?

Lamb’s Ear can start to look really soggy and dirty at this time of year, but it is easiest to leave it, and clean it up in the Spring. It will separate itself, making it easier to rake and clean up in the Spring.

10. My perennials are still flowering, what should I do?

Enjoy them, and clean them up in the Spring.


Entry filed under: Annuals, Autumn/Fall, diseases, Gardens, How To, Perennials, Pruning, Shape, Spring, Tips. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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