Tidy up your perennials for winter
There’s more to this than just cutting back willy-nilly…
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