Fall Perennial Care

It’s that time of the year again. The days are shorter, there’s a cool breeze in the air, and soon the trees will be shades of orange, yellow and red. Your Perennial garden is fading from its glory, tired from a long blooming season.  Here are some tips on Fall Perennial Care.

Sun Perennials

Cone Flower, Hibiscus and Black Eyed Susan’s are on their last few weeks of bloom time and soon to be replaced with mums, pansies and ornamental cabbage and kale. Now is the time to clean up, cut back and get those babies ready for a long winters sleep.

Most sun loving Perennials will bloom into late fall.  You can let them continue as long as they still look good.  Some, however, are spent, tired and on their last lap.  These are ready to be cut back.  You can cut them down to the ground or leave them two to three inches above the ground or mulch. With the Hibiscus you might want to leave 4 to 6 inches. You’ll want to do this so you don’t plant anything over it.  Hibiscus will sprout suckers in the spring, and the new flowers will come from them.  If you choose, you can cut them all the way back to the ground and it won’t hurt anything.

The Cone Flower develops a fresh flush of mounded leaves at the end of the summer. I usually cut the dead stems all the way back to the flush. The Black Eyed Susan grows a new flush in the Fall.  When you see this develop it’s time to cut back the stems. Don’t be afraid of doing this, they will love you for it in the spring.

Shade Perennials

There are several evergreen shade Perennials, so all they will need is to be cleaned up so they can show off their lovely foliage in the fall and early winter. The Helleborus or Lenten Rose will be getting ready for its winter bloom. The Heuchera or Coral Bells should be showing off its new flush of leaves. You can help it by cleaning the spent leaves out from underneath it. Your Hosta may still be gorgeous now, but as the temperatures drops we all know what happens to this guy. Help him along by cutting him back, usually flush to your mulch or ground. If you have any Clematis or other vines that are not evergreen, don’t be afraid to cut those guys back too.

If you want to divide any plants, now is the time to do it. It is best to wait till the cooler days are upon us. This reduces the chance of sending the plant into shock. When you replant the divided plants, make sure you water them in good so they are happy in their new home.

Now, after everything has been cleaned up, cut back and readied for the winter months.  If you haven’t already done it, it’s time to mulch.  Be careful not to get it too heavy on the plants. This will give your perennials a warm blanket to keep them snug through the long winter months.

Your garden is now all cleaned up covered with a fresh coat of mulch and ready to shut down for a long winters nap and is just as lovely as it is in the beautiful days of summer.