Preparing for the winter

Elly_NJ(NJ z6)October 26, 2012

Can someone help me? I have a small garden of

Black eyed Susans

Swamp Milkweed

Orange Milkweed

Blue great lobelia

10 petal sunflowers

Lance leafed goldenrod

a native aster

All have gone to seed.

I don't want to cut them down because I want the birds to have access to the seeds in winter. But is now the time to separate them? Or in the spring? It's a bit crowded in there.

Any other advice?

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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Cutting all the dried stalks down now also diminishes winter interest. Looking at a barren patch of mud all winter is no fun, but some snow frosted dried flower heads? That is far more interesting!

I would personally wait until spring when they just begin to sprout and leaf out. Some may not survive the winter - Mother Nature weeds out the weak and unlucky. In the spring move around the survivors that need more space. Just mark your plants well now. The freezing and thawing and too often heaving of soil through the winter will push out tiny plant markers and by spring you won't remember what is where. (Yeah.....personal experience!)

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 2:57PM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

I usually divide in the spring, too - Split up a rather large clump of New England Asters this spring - I now have quite a few, even in spite of the drought.

Around here, we sometimes get the "dustings" of snow - Very pretty. More often, though, we get enough to bury the seed heads completely. I personally prefer lots of snow!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 8:19AM
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momliz(7a VA)

do you really need to divide the milkweeds? they have a taproot and may not like it...

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 9:49PM
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Elly_NJ(NJ z6)

I've taken the seedings from Swamp milkweed, not orange. I've given them to friends and traveled to NC with one. I'll only do this if it crowds.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 11:04PM
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dapjwy

"Cutting all the dried stalks down now also diminishes winter interest. Looking at a barren patch of mud all winter is no fun, but some snow frosted dried flower heads? That is far more interesting!" Posted by fatamorgana

I'm so glad you added that comment. I feel the same way. A blanket of snow covering a lawn is nothing in comparison to the beauty and interest of seedheads with frost or covered in snow.

Great advice from all, so I really don't have to add anything. I will, however, say that dividing in the fall is another option...especially when you know the plants will have enough time to put down roots before the ground freezes. From what I've read, the roots continue to grow well into the fall and early winter if the soil has not frozen to any significant depth.

That said, I think I tend to divide more often in spring than in fall.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 12:45PM
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