Spring Cleanup Question

fairydancer(z5 NY)March 23, 2005

I hope someone can answer because I don't want to do any damage to my plants. Last year I started a bunch of flowers from seed indoors under lights and planted them out in my bed. They did great, although many did not bloom 1st year as expected. I did no cleanup or cutting back during the fall. I piled a bunch of leaves over the bed for winter protection and now that the snow has melted, I see that many of the plants still have a touch of green on the leaves (albeit a nasty looking green). Do I cut these plants back to the ground to make room for new growth? Off the top of my head, the ones I'm concerned about hurting with my pruning would be shasta daisies, columbine, dianthus, achillea and flax.

Oh, and I had 2 lavender plants make it through the winter too. Any suggestions on how or if to prune them?



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misstish64(z5 Upstate NY)

Hi Deb- I can tell you about the columbine- they grow all new starting in little greyish-greenish-pinkish rosettes at the base. Cutting down the dead stuff now is a good idea because the foliage grows fast and it will be easier while the new growth is short. For lavender, I've seen it recommended to trim it back by 1/3 once you start seeing new growth. I don't wait that long because they get so rangey over the summer that they cover the little irises and poppy foliage trying to get sun in the spring, so I just hack them by half and it doesn't seem to be a problem. Don't know about the others...good luck!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 7:03AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I'd leave the shasta daisies, dianthus and achillea alone, at least until they start growing and you can see what is what. They can be evergreen and winter over foliage. The flax will resprout. It's a relatively short lived plant, so don't be too aggressive with the deadheading if you want to keep it around.

The thing to remember about lavender, is don't prune it too early. Wait until it gets going in the spring also. It might take a while. It's a sub-shrub, and isn't real fond of having the woody parts pruned.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 8:00AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I wait until things warm up a bit more and the plants start to get new growth at the crown. With a lot of plants the dead stalks will come right out when they are ready. I do trim the ragged stuff off that is just hanging there just to make it a little tidier.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 9:55AM
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AbbeysDad(z5 CNY)

Yep - leave them alone and it will become very apparent soon.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 11:19AM
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Last time I checked we are suppose to get some more "winter type" weather yet. I wouldn't push cleaning up your beds just yet you could do more harm than good. Those leaves you tossed on your beds are acting like a blanket and are keeping things safe AND allowing them to sprout up a little sooner than they would normally. If you remove too much of that blanket too soon you could unintentionally send your plants into shock. Even those old shoots as brown and ucky as they are are helping to protect your plants.
I know I'm dying to get outside and play in the dirt too BUT part of being a good gardener is knowing how to wait.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 12:22PM
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fairydancer(z5 NY)

Oh yeah, I'm going to leave be for at least another couple of weeks. We are supposed to get some snow again tonight! Gee whiz, I'm tired of this. I'm going to wait until we get some really good 50+ degree weather stretches before I start to clean. Thanks for all the suggestions and advice.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 4:16PM
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