10 perennial plants that should be cut back in the fall

10 perennial plants that should be cut back in the fall

Some common garden plants do not respond well to fall pruning, and pruning at the wrong time of year may reduce flowering and cause other problems. So what perennials should you cut back in the fall? The list below includes the best perennials that benefit from late-season pruning, which can encourage better growth and even reduce some garden pests and diseases such as powdery mildew. Plus you'll find some pruning tips to get you started.

Bee balm

Denny Schrock

Some gardeners prefer not to prune bee balm (Monarda spp.) at all because birds and other wildlife often feed on seeds in winter. However, bee balm plants should be cut back in the fall if they have powdery mildew problems during the growing season. Pruning affected plants is one way to prevent the spread of this plant disease, but watering your plants at the soil line and following proper spacing recommendations can also reduce mildew problems.

Do not fertilize diseased foliage. Most home composting systems don't get hot enough to kill the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause plant diseases, so they could infect plants in the future when the resulting compost is used.

Blazing star

Peter Cromhardt

bright star(Liatrice spp.) The leaves can look messy by the end of the season and many gardeners choose to cut these plants back to keep their garden beds looking more trimmed. While some gardeners prune blazing aster immediately after the plants have finished flowering, this can limit flowering the following year. Waiting for these perennials to die back naturally in the fall will give your plants more time to grow and store the energy they need to survive the winter.

Catmint

Edward Julich

Long stems on mint (Nepeta spp.) often flops off toward the end of the growing season, making garden beds look untidy in the winter. Trimming mint plants about 4 to 6 inches above the soil line in the fall will give your flower beds a tidier look. But don't cut mint too low to the ground because that will make the plant's roots more vulnerable to winter damage.

Daylilies

Dean Shopner

daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) generally bloom throughout the summer, although there are a few cultivars that can continue to bloom into the fall. But when frost arrives, daylily plants naturally die back and you can easily cut off the dead foliage to keep your garden looking tidy. While some gardeners prune daylilies early in the season, this can interfere with the plant's ability to photosynthesize and your daylilies will be healthier if you prune them after the first frost in the fall.

Phlox garden

Carson Downing


Powdery mildew is often a problem for garden phlox (Phlox paniculata). Nip mildew problems in the bud by cutting back phlox plants in the fall and properly disposing of all diseased foliage. This includes burning infected plant parts or packing them in bags and throwing them in the trash.

Hosta

Blaine trenches


hosta (Hosta spp.) is commonly grown in shade gardens and its easy-going nature makes it one of the best plants of choice for novice gardeners. However, hostas often suffer from slugs and snails during the growing season. These pesky creatures then lay their eggs in hosta leaves during the fall. Cutting off hosta leaves after they die in the fall will improve your plant's appearance and prevent slug eggs from overwintering as well.

Irises

Robert Cardillo

Like daylilies and starbursts, iris (iris spp.) can appear ragged by the end of the season and its leaves often become tender after frost arrives. But if you wait to prune your plants until after the first fall frost, your irises will have more time to photosynthesise and store energy for the winter. When pruning iris, make a cut about 6 to 8 inches above the crown of the plant and clip the leaves into a fan-like shape to give the iris a more organic appearance.

Lavender

Matthew Benson


lavender (Washed spp.) only produces leaves and flowers on old wood, so cutting plants back to their woody sections can prevent their growth. Although this popular herb can be pruned in the spring, it is often easier to prune lavender in the fall when the plant still has its leaves, making it easier to see where the woody parts begin. Just keep in mind that lavender plants should be cut back at least 6 weeks before the first frost date because late pruning can make lavender more susceptible to winter damage.

Lilies

Lori Black


true lilies (lily spp.) benefit from reduction in the fall. Like other bulb plants, lilies store nutrients in their bulbs during the winter months, so cutting plants too early in the season can prevent flowering the following year. Instead, wait until frost arrives and the lilies die naturally to take out your pruning shears.

Peony

Carla Conrad

peony (pioneer spp.) are a popular ornamental plant, thanks to their large, fragrant flowers they are often used in cut flower arrangements. But peonies are susceptible to powdery mildew, which can cover the plant's leaves with an unsightly white coating and weaken the plants over time. Cut peonies back in the fall to prevent powdery mildew spores from overwintering and reappearing in your spring garden.

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