Do I need to cut perennials for the winter?
In an effort to achieve perfect order in the garden, older summer residents usually spend the annual general cleaning of the site. With the onset of late autumn, the lush flower beds are thoroughly cleaned, after removing the summer trees and pruning the perennials, turning into flat islands of bare land. But “advanced youth” will consider such cleaning almost an “act of vandalism”, finding in the floral “garbage” a special charm and object of contemplation. But the truth, as always, is hiding somewhere in between. Let's try to figure out which perennial plants need to be cut in the fall, and in which cases this procedure will be meaningless or even harmful.
- Perennials that do not need winter pruning
- Perennials that need pruning for the winter
- When pruning is a moot point
- When is it better to start pruning plants for the winter?
- Pros of autumn pruning ornamental plants
- Cons of pruning perennials for the winter
Perennials that do not need winter pruning
Strongly impossible to crop
First of all, it is important to know which of the inhabitants of your garden will react sharply negatively to winter pruning. There are relatively few such perennials, and it is better, as they say, to immediately know them in person, in order to avoid the senseless stress of green pets. Such plants can be safely allowed to stay with leaves until spring.
It is strictly forbidden to cut winter-winter perennials wintering with foliage for the winter.
Of the most common garden plants, this group includes: medunica, frankincense, woolly purse, cinquefoil, primroses, some types of garden geraniums, gravel, hellebore, liverwort, bitterness, santolina, geyhera, geykherella and some others. As well as most of the so-called "rugs": periwinkle, stonecrop (creeping species), awl-shaped phlox, arabis, armeria, saxifrages, auretus, juveniles, survivors, certain types of veronica, etc.
If you cut these crops for the winter, then in the spring the plants will need to spend a lot of energy to restore the green mass, so you will most likely not see blooms. And some perennials after such pruning may not even survive the winter.
Better not to crop
It is advisable not to cut perennials for the winter, which are considered conditionally winter-hardy in our climate (5-6 frost resistance zone). First of all, these include lavender, coreopsis whorled, Perovian, perennial lobelia and others. Such recommendations are mainly related to the fact that dried shoots contribute to better snow retention in winter, protecting the root system from the cold. For the same purpose, in the fall, these flowers cover the tops of bushy annuals.
Also, for the winter it is impossible to cut the shoots of princes and clematis blooming on the shoots of last year. Usually these are species varieties (clematis grape-leaved, Tangut, Vititsella, Manchurian, prince of Alpine, etc.) As well as varieties belonging to the second group of pruning, which are cut only half before shelter. As a rule, these are terry, or simple hybrids from the Lanuginoza, Patens and Florida groups.
Ornamental cereals - a separate issue
All representatives of cereals can be divided into two large classes: evergreen and grass with dying foliage for the winter. However, in the fall, any cereals are best left untouched. After all, dry foliage prevents excess moisture from getting to the roots, and most importantly, protects wintering buds from freezing.
Especially this recommendation is relevant for heat-loving herbs, such as, for example, pennisetums and miscanthus. For greater reliability before wintering, these herbs are often recommended to be bundled. But with the advent of spring, dried clumps of grass of the first group are completely cut off, while evergreen cereals are combed with a rake so that dry leaves do not interfere with the appearance of young foliage.
Tip: late autumn, plants with wintering leaves can cut flower stalks, as well as yellowed and damaged leaves. But such hygienic procedures can be fully transferred to the spring.
Perennials that need pruning for the winter
The second large group includes ornamental plants, which, on the contrary, need to be pruned for a good winter sleep and successful flowering in the next season. It is better to put these green pets in preparation for the winter in the list of obligatory garden work in autumn.
First of all, you need to trim the plants that during the season showed signs of bacterial or fungal diseases. At the same time, the tops of such perennials should in no case be placed on composting. Affected shoots are recommended to dry and burn a little, or to remove from the site.
But even if the past season turned out to be favorable, and the plants practically did not hurt anything, some perennials susceptible to fungal diseases are still recommended to be cut off, since pathogens could remain on their leaves and shoots. Such plants, in the first place, include phlox, delphinium, spikelet veronica, etc. By the way, it is also useful to treat the soil beneath them in autumn with fungicides.
If during the summer season in the flower garden there was an invasion of various pests (aphids, leaf beetles and others), or harmful insects attack your flowerbed for more than a year, it is better to remove all fallen leaves under the plants and be sure to rake the autumn foliage falling into the flower garden, since such a “warm blanket” helps pests to tolerate winter well.
Perennials and ornamental shrubs that winter with shelter must certainly be thoroughly cleaned of falling leaves before installing protective structures over them. First of all, this, of course, applies to roses, more often than others suffering from fungal diseases. But for large-leaved hydrangea, a similar measure will also not be unnecessary.
Do not forget! Most varieties of large-leaved hydrangea bloom on last year's shoots, so when removing leaves it is important not to damage the apical buds of the shoots.
Some popular inhabitants of flowerbeds and flower gardens give very abundant self-sowing, so it is better to cut off their fertility before the seeds fully ripen and scatter to all corners of the garden, giving unnecessary shoots in the spring and adding work to the grower. Such prolific perennials include solidago, solidaster, New Belgian asters, lupins, rudbeckia, blueheads, mordovia, scaffolds, etc.
When pruning is a moot point
The next group of plants gives gardeners the opportunity to make decisions on their own - whether to rush with pruning in the fall, or to postpone scissors until spring.
Many gardeners really want to prolong the summer, which, despite the autumn cold, as if still remains with us, while flowers bloom on the flower beds. Fortunately, with a cut of annuals, rush is completely optional. Moreover, in some species, with the onset of cold weather, the color of the petals changes, for example, as in the zinnia of the Profusion series.
It is best to cut off annuals only after they die naturally from frost. And do not forget that flower tops are very useful for sheltering heat-loving perennials. Marigolds, zinnias and calendula are especially good as winter blankets.
Foliage and stems of perennial plants, under which there are plantings of bulbous primroses, it is also recommended to clean from autumn. Indeed, in this case, in early spring, the fragrant curtains of snowdrops will look clean and tidy, and their charm will not overshadow the dull appearance of the leafy foliage.
However, some lovers of a natural approach to decoration consider the combination of primroses and last year's foliage quite organic. In addition, overheating leaves serve as mulch for the bulbs and retain moisture in the soil in the event of a dry spring.
The question of whether to cut hosts in the fall most often arises for beginner growers. But those who have been familiar with this popular perennial for more than one year have already noticed that during the winter the dense leaves of the host completely rot, and in the spring there is no trace of them.
In addition, after the first small frosts, the motley leaf blade of the host fancifully changes color, becoming an additional color accent in the autumn flower garden. But, of course, if you adhere to the approach of “purity and accuracy”, then removing the yellowed leaves of these perennials will not do any harm to them.
Tip: Do not rush to cut perennials with a beautiful autumn color (for example, maple leaves), because their foliage will add color to a thinned flower garden, and will cheer you up.
Also at your discretion is the autumn pruning of astilbe, volzhanka, aconites and bells.
When is it better to start pruning plants for the winter?
Pruning of perennial flowers begins from the end of October to mid-November. It is best to conduct this event in dry weather before the first frosts or immediately after them. But remember that hurrying to trim decorative perennials is still not worth it, as long as the foliage has not yet faded, the aerial part of the plants continues to nourish their root system.
Before frost, as a rule, in October, most garden perennials are cut off: peonies, gaillardia, phlox, brunera, astilbe, volzhanka, feverfew, aquilegia, delphinium, irises, tall bells and others. At the same time, small smooth stumps 3-5 cm high should remain above the soil surface.
In November, with the onset of stable negative temperatures, young shoots of clematis are cut off (up to 20-25 centimeters), as well as daylily (up to 10-12 centimeters), since these plants can produce young shoots in the event of a protracted warm autumn.
Pros of autumn pruning ornamental plants
In some perennials (peonies, irises) during the winter, the stems break up into elastic fibers or, on the contrary, become too coarse, as a result of which it is not so easy to cut them in the spring.
If you are planning a time trouble in the spring, then it is better to save time for planting and other garden work and carry out a general cleaning in the flower gardens in the fall.
Many gardeners never come to their summer cottage in winter, so leaving the plants uncut for their aesthetic appeal in the offseason makes no sense.
When spring pruning of ornamental plants increases the likelihood of damage to young shoots, besides, tiny shoots of awakened perennials are easy to miss and simply trample, putting things in order in the flower garden.
Cons of pruning perennials for the winter
In natural-style flower gardens, stiff last year's stems can become a natural support for plants prone to lodging.
Some thermophilic garden flowers emerge from the earth quite late. In these cases, last year’s tops can serve as a kind of beacons so that you do not accidentally damage the plants during digging or confuse with shoots of perennial weeds.
Seed heads will greatly help wintering birds to feed in the winter, and thus you will attract them to your garden. For example, the light brown heads of the monarda contain nutritious nut seeds, which birds eat with pleasure.
But nevertheless, the main reason why more and more gardeners leave flower beds "uncleaned" in the winter is the special charm of dried inflorescences of decorative perennials. Brushes, peaks, balls, umbrellas, panicles and buttons - if you look closely at the seed heads of plants more closely, you can really find a wide variety of original inflorescences with a clear structure that will become a worthy decoration of the garden in the off-season.
Stonecrop prominent, echinacea, rudbeckia, lyatris, chistets, allium, goldenrod and many other perennials and ornamental cereals, when left in the winter, will give graphic flowers to empty flower beds, maintain their shape, maintain their structure and add volume.
Indeed, which of us was not fascinated by the fabulous panicles of Miscanthus, silver plated with frost, the image of which abound in glossy garden magazines? However, one should not forget that our climate is largely different from the European one, and weather conditions do not always give us the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the joint work of hoarfrost and faded plants.
But, nevertheless, even if an excessively snowy early winter carefully hides all the flower beds under a fluffy blanket, we can still admire the floral graphics of Indian summers and late autumn. Therefore, I advise owners of elegant natural flower beds to safely put the scissors aside.