Do you pull your annuals out in the fall?

mary_maxAugust 21, 2006

I am thinking ahead a few weeks and was wondering what is in store for me. I planted tons of annuals (my first year gardening) and now need to know if I leave them in place through the winter or tear them out after I collect seeds in the fall? Also,can you tell me what annuals reseed in zone 5? Anyhelp you can give me is greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think they almost all reseed; I think the percentage of germination is the big thing. I haven't had good luck with marigolds, but all the others seem to have at least 10% germination, but I realize that might not be what you're looking for.

For the small ones that I know reseed -- a certain kind of impatiens and moss roses, for instance -- I like to pull them up and lay them on the ground where I want them to be next year, which may, or may not, be the same place they were growing this year. Sometimes I get fancy and pull them by color to put them under a matching rose or something. I leave them on top of the ground for about 2 weeks, which sounds ugly, but we have leaves ankle deep around here and they are barely noticeable.

At the end of 2 weeks, or when I get around to it, I bang the plants against a garbage can lid which disperses a LOT of extra seed and then toss them in the compost pile. This must yield 1000s of seeds, so when I get 10% germination, it is plenty.

For the big annuals, I have done it different ways -- each has its pros and cons. Some annuals are really tender perennials and I always think that *maybe* they'll come back. And sometimes they do. If I yank them, though, there is no chance they'll come back. Other plants look really, really bad after Dec 1 and turn a really light straw color that just looks DEAD. Not dormant, DEAD. Some are good for the birds, some have interesting seed heads, etc.

If you have reliable snow cover, I would tend to leave them. The humps look better than plain flat, I think.

I would say that if you live in a neighborhood or the plants are in the front yard, yanking them is preferred. If you are out in the country, then it looks natural and ok to leave them up. If you live in gated community, then definitely have the lawn crew do it in fall hahahaha.

That's my 2c, it will be interesting to see what other people have to say.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 10:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow this is so helpful. I appreciate all you wrote. This forum is absolutely wonderful. I have a beautiful flower garden and it is only because of folks like you that are so kind and so helpful and willing to take the time to write out answers. I just love this site. I agree with you as I think it will be very informative to read what each person does. I had planned to yank all annuals out this fall but now I am thinking I probably should not. Thanks for you response. Hopefully we will hear from others in zone 5 and see what they do.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 11:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It depends on you. If you like things super neat, you'll clean up after the first frost. If, like me, you prefer a more natural appearance and want to leave something for the birds to work on, you'll leave the dead plants in place and clear them away in spring. For stuff that self sows, (verbena bonarensis, nicotiana sylvestris, hollyhocks, mullein pinks) I usually cut the seed bearing stalks and lay them where I want plants next year.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 5:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm the clean-it-up type! I like to pull everything that's dead, cut down dead stalks, make the ground look smooth and ready for spring planting. I leave the stems with seedheads that the birds like, but pull the ones that I don't want to spread around.

Annuals die around here over winter, even the tender perennials. Only once did the snapdragons come back after a mild winter and they were spectacular. So I leave them. It's the early spring freeze-thaw-heave-freeze cycles that ultimately kill the tender perennials.

The annuals that self sow in my garden are nigella, tall ageratum, the ones old roser named, dill, silene, lychnis, foxglove, rudbeckia, feverfew, cynoglossum (forgetmenot) and celosia. When the seeds are ripe, I throw them around the of my favorite garden tasks. They come up where they like the conditions and I let them stay where I want them. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 7:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kristal(3b MN)

I do a little of both, but this year, I think I will chop up all my potted annuals and use them as mulch right along with the grass clippings. If some happen to reseed, no harm done, and if not, I used them for a purpose rather than put them into the compost bin, then back into the beds later.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 12:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How do you chop them up?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 11:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
juanital(5b/6a OH)

I also do a little of both. Depends whats left and looks so awful that I have to just pull them up also with spring time in mind and how much cleaning i want to do. I do like to leave some up for the birds and winter interest. And it it's quite interseting to see what will pop up, leave or take out as wanted...

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 7:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Rather than "pull them up," why not cut them off at ground level and let the roots "compost" into the soil?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 6:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dead plants are removed in fall, unless I am too lazy to do this, in which case they are removed in spring. This covers almost all eventualities.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 5:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Of course, many things are learned through experimentation and that's part of the fun of gardening. Here are a few warnings, though. For one, if you've planted nice hybrid annual plants (or seeds), subsequent generations will rarely come true from seed and that can be disappointing. So do a little homework first.

Though 'some' plants that are used as annuals are actually tender perennials (like begonia, pansy, dusty miller to name just a few), their growing habits should be researched a bit for each area. In many cases, they will NOT reseed themselves, will NOT come true from seed, or will NOT survive a cold winter (or a hot summer). Another thing to be concerned about is pests. If you found yourself fighting certain insect or disease problems on your annuals this season then you should probably cull the plants are remove them from the beds.

For me, annuals are entirely removed at the end of their season, often by clipping the tops, as eldo suggests. Those root systems are too darned big to do otherwise, lol! I've not planted anything that should be allowed to reseed (hybrids). I might do things quite differently if annuals were the backbone of my gardens, but they are only the 'bling'. I suuuuuure would miss my zinnias!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 10:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pam_whitbyon(6 Niagara)

I never really think about seeding consciously and the only things that come back for me from seed each year are snapdragons, cleome, allysum and cosmos.

I pull everything out in the fall and it feels so good getting rid of all those bunches of dried up stuff! I get to a certain stage in my garden where all I'm doing is looking for things to pull out!

Now having said that, last year it got cold and miserable SO quickly that I left everything as it was, frozen in time, as we moved from bikini-type weather to oilskins, (ok, not quite :) ) so everything had to wait until the spring. The garden looked pretty untidy on mild winter days but nothing would motivate me to go outside and clear it up except the promise of a nice spring day in March. So I might try to be a bit more disciplined this year.

What a great thread - lime, your post was worth WAY more than 2 cents - thanks for all the great ideas!

I agree with you, Mary, this place is an amazing source of information. I think I learn more here in a day than I've ever picked up from any gardening magazine (but I love those too!)

Have fun with your gardening journey!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 10:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

mary-max I love your questions, because some of them are my questions also. I agree; that the folks here are great!!!!
My thanks to all of you! - from a newbee to GW and a fairly new to person to gardening.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 1:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

like juanital, if I can get it done, I pull them out in the fall. This year the 36' long bed of merigolds are coming out sometime soon, so I can add horse manure to the soil and have it ready for spring. The other bed where I added 6" of compost looked great all summer without watering-dark green and lush. I hope to have enough energy and manure to do the edge of some other beds too-those petunias are scrawny and awful.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 8:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As a 3-year 'still green' newbie gardener, I have to say that the more I learn about the what and how of gardening, the more I learn to 'budget my gardening time.'

I work f/t, so I MUST use the time whenever I can for 'cleanup' activities- that being yanking the annuals when they have either gone by, or I've collected enough seed from them. I spend a couplehours here, and a couple hours there ripping out and moving, and this started last weekend in earnest with a small bed of bird-eaten sunflowers. For a fall look, I merely stole some marigolds from the veggie patch and replaced the sunflowers.

Another small hosta bed got entirely pulled up, amended with a fresh load of compost, and reset.

The hanging petunia skeleton-remains got yanked and the planters put away.

A couple loads of weeds to the compost pile, and call it a day.

I do yank the annuals as they go by and don't let them sit to compost- simply because they'd likely take longer to compost than a new spring planting, and the root-balls would merely be that much more in the way in spring when I was trying to 'fluff' the beds up to make way for all my Wintersown babies.

For me, it's not a matter of DO I yank them, but WHEN I yank them.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 2:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, the first week of fall, all summer annuals are gone.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 3:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
maineman(z5a ME)

I don't compost the annuals, to help cut down on disease transmission to next year. I do try to strip the annuals to prevent their dead remains from harboring over insects and diseases to next year.

I don't know if leaving the roots in place would harbor bad nematodes and such, but it is impractical to remove all the roots. If I get time, I'll till before the soil freezes solid, but this year I may not get around to it.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2006 at 5:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

the only reason to pull annuals at the end of the season is you want a neat look.

Leaving them results in more self sowing, more food for the critters like birds in the winter, more 'composting in place', more natural winter mulch etc.

In nature plants don't get pulled. In gardens they also don't get pulled unless someone simply can't stand the look of dead plants rotting in place before the snow covers them.

I just leave them, but I have to chase off the wife who is cut down happy ;-) It really doesn't matter much what you do, but all this means is the effort you expend pulling plants does nothing other than burn a couple calories.

If you want the neat and tidy look then pull em up. Otherwise just leave them and let momma nature do her thing

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 11:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I pull the annuals, leave the bulk of the perennial foliage. I want to be able to see where the "keepers" are during the winter when I'm doing my planning for the next growing season.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2006 at 8:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I tried something new this year with excellenbt results...I have been cutting off foliage of perennials (and annuals as I get around to it) and running over it with the lawnmower. It is yielding me a lot of nice material for my compost pile.

As an aside, if you put your garden remains in the trash, do you know where YOUR trash goes and what happens to it after it leaves your property? You should, so you can do the best and most educated job you can of clearing your garden.

In many communities, the garden waste goes to a landfill, which is considered a no no. Not because it's toxic, but because it is wasteful of the landfill space. Some communities recycle waste and sell the compost, usually through a third party. Garden waste which is treated like this should all break down within 12 months, but they have equipment that helps it along. In stil other communities, the waste is burned, then the heat exchanged and sold as power. For these people, wet leaves and garden waste are the no no because it takes a whole lot more fuel to burn wet stuff as opposed to dry stuff.

One of the best things you can do is find out what happens to your waste. It will make a difference on how you dispose of unwanted things. Might also help you make more informed choices when purchasing, too.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2006 at 10:50PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Introducing myself and Sunflower adventures
Hi, everyone. I used to read a lot and post occasionally...
luvsflwrs NearBoston6B
How long do zinnia seeds keep for?
I'd like to place an order for some zinnia seeds. However,...
I picked up some caladium bulbs today -- am wondering...
Hello everyone! If you would like to see some wonderful...
Fence decorating w/ annuals & other things?
I was going to post this on vertical gardening but...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™