Sunday, November 2, 2014

To Cut Plants Back or Leave Them Be?

The garden adapts to the grower's character unlike any other happenstance of daily life. "Eyes forward" types tend the yard in a different way than those who live in the moment. But the end result remains remarkable.

Each fall the dilemma presents itself once again.  Should I cut back spent plants or wait until spring?

The answer depends upon the plants, the schedule and personal aesthetics.  Predictions for winter include a very short spring.  Mother nature may have other plans, however.

If weather and time permits, cut back all soft leaf perennials such as hosta.  Tucked below a bed of
snow,  leftovers turn mushy and removal's messy.  Yet there's no preferred method.  If left until spring, spent leaves can simply be pulled away.  Then step back for the fiery fall show.

Heavy stemmed daisies are best cut partially back as their overall thickness and growth makes more work once the tops of the plants deteriorate.

Rose blooms should remain untouched through until pods are formed.   Then the plants should be trimmed back in the spring to a greened stem at a leaf juncture. 

Hydrangea, on the other hand are best cut back once the Ides of March have passed as winter die back is readily apparent and it's easy to cut along the lines.  The winter garden enjoys the visual benefit of those lovely dried mop heads for interest.



Same goes for shrubs such as spirea which can be "stooled" or cut back hard in fall or spring.  The
accumulation of snow on dense branches can be lovely to some, and the browned branches add structure to the barren yard. 

There's no singular correct method.  Much depends upon the personality of the gardener.  Those who prefer the yard to be tidy can't abide the presence of browned leaves.  Those who wish to have the task list complete in advance will opt for fall.  Others who desire more fullness and structure during the cold months will leave it lie. 

Gardens are like children and pets--they tend to thrive no
matter our methods so long as love's the impetus.

Happy clipping!

Related Blogs: 


Shrubbery Flubbery -- Heavy Snow and Shrubs

Boxwood Burn