Tidy up your peren­ni­als for win­ter

There’s more to this than just cut­ting back willy-nilly…

Amateur Gardening - - Front Page -

OUR sum­mer peren­ni­als had a late flush thanks to the warm days of mid-Septem­ber, but now they are look­ing sad and spent and in need of tidy­ing up.

It’s an easy job; sim­ply re­duce dead flower stems to just above any new growth and re­move old, dead leaves as well. Don’t worry if new growth is hit by frosts in win­ter and turns an un­sightly black – just re­move it, mulch around the plant and new growth will ap­pear when the weather starts to warm up.

Not ev­ery­thing needs to be cut back. Ar­chi­tec­tural seed heads such as sea holly (Eryn­gium) add in­ter­est through au­tumn and win­ter if left stand­ing, es­pe­cially when they are cov­ered in frost. Many hol­low stems are used as a hi­ber­na­tion haven by in­sects and in­ver­te­brates, and if you do de­cide to cut these, why not bun­dle them to­gether and stack them in a hedge or shrub to make an im­promptu bug ho­tel?

More ten­der peren­ni­als such as pen­ste­mons should only be cut down by one third, as the old stems will help pro­tect and in­su­late the plant’s crown and can be re­moved in spring once new growth starts to shoot.

Sea holly heads add win­ter in­ter­est Some peren­ni­als can be cut back now, but many can be left un­til spring

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