When the fall comes around, it can be tempting to cut everything back as much as possible. Or are you afraid to chop back your plants because you think you will hurt them? You are not alone! Fall pruning can be tricky. Some plants need to keep their foliage to protect themselves through the winter, others do better when they are properly put to bed before winter.
Do how do you know where to trim and where to skip? Here are some do’s and don’ts for fall pruning to ensure a thriving spring season.
- If you’ve just had the first frost, and the plant is starting to die back. It’s best to wait until after the first frost, so you can ensure the plant has received all the nutrients it needs.
- Any plant that has dried, bleached flowerheads can be removed.
- Remove any type of plants that are showing signs of decay or fungal growth.
Common varieties that you can prune back in the fall and receive a nice fresh bloom in the Spring include:
- If it’s a grass. Grasses collect snow around the base, providing insulation for the plant, and don’t need to be cut back during the winter.
- If it’s an evergreen, you definitely don’t need to cut it back, enjoy the green leaves all winter long. These can include Kniphofia and ornamental sedges.
- If you’re concerned about wildlife, you might want to leave some bloomers, like coneflowers and black-eyed Susans that provide seeds for birds during the winter.
- Some tender plants with woody stems, such as penstemons, need to be left through winter so that the old stems protect the crown from frost.
- If it’s a self-seeder, it’s best to be left alone through the winter.
Common varieties that are best left alone through the winter and given a good pruning in the spring include:
Black Eyed Susan.
Of course, there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules about what and how to cut back in fall. Each gardener tends to his or her garden in a slightly different way. Some like to cut back more in the fall simply to make the garden look tidier over the winter. Some are tired by fall and prefer to put off all pruning until the Spring. Over time, you’ll learn what works best for you and your garden.