Cutting down perennials

LybanOctober 23, 2009

I am wondering what it means when they say to cut down perennials to ground level in the fall. Does that mean about 1 inch above ground or should I leave more than that.

Also what do I do with annabelle Hydrangeas in Montreal winter. Do I cut them or leave them alone.

Thanks for any help

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Leave your hydrengeas alone they are a shrub not a perennial.

There is no hard and fast rule about cutting down perennials. Some cut them to an inch or so of the ground some leave them taller.

I never cut my perennials down except for the tall ones which I cut down by about half. Leaving them taller catches the snow which helps protect the roots

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 8:36AM
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Personally I don't cut back plants in the fall. I leave the stalks on the plant to catch snow and help provide insulation during the winter months. I do a garden cleanup in the spring. I don't have an Annabelle Hydrandgea but my MIL did and she never cut it back but left it til spring and then she did a cleanup of the plant. Hopefully someone that has one will post how it is really done.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 8:39AM
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hi lyban

i cut down my perennials every fall...the reason is because there is just too much to do in the spring...
i leave about an inch or so...doesn't really matter how much..
some people like to leave them for feed for the birds.

some hydra's bloom on old wood,some on new wood,you'll have to look it up in the hydra section..

good luck

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 10:08AM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

One thing i've learned to do is cut down iris foliage in the fall. It's a pulpy mess in the spring - yuck! :)

    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 10:47AM
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It's not necessary to cut down annabelles in fall. This is a very easy plant to grow. I have one which I grew from a cutting. Also had one at my previous home. This particular shrub will produce more stems from its base in the spring. But some of it's old stems will also produce leaf buds in the spring so best not to cut this plant down completely lest you terminate these buds. It's not the kind of hydrangea that branches out like a limelight (which I also have). Oh and these too bloom on new wood. So leave it be till next spring. -- Marric, your suggestions are right on.

Now for general practises on hard pruning perennials... It all depends. For instance herbacious perennials - sure remove the top as close to the ground as possible. These do die out anyway and looks unsightly for some of us. So these are your irises, hostas, astilbes, etc.. For decidious types, I would rather wait till the next spring to do any prunings. And I am very selective on which kinds of perennials to do hard prunings which is what cutting close to the ground means if applied to decidous shrubs. I wait till the following spring because the stems and foliage provide protection and insulation to plants. For instance lavenders benefit from having its stems and foliage intact. as snow falls and form pockets of insulation, it's very core remains protected from the worst of winter. however, I won't do hard pruning on my limelight hydrangeas. I am selective on which stems to cut as I might destroy the seasons buds. I do the same with the lilacs. For roses, I never cut close to the ground unless absolute hard pruning is necessary (like if ramblers went wild) I normally leave a foot or more of the rose stem and wait till the following spring to prune further and only after I spot the stem buds. For clematis, same thing, wait it out till the following spring.

So I hope you understand what I am saying, be careful and select your plants carefully before doing any hard pruning. Dying foliage although unsightly actually helps to protect plants.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2009 at 7:12PM
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Thanks everyone for the replies.
I will heed the advice here, and do some pruning but not touch my hydrangeas.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 4:29PM
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