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by Vikki Griffin
Griffins Greenhouses

Most perennials require a cut back before the next year’s growth emerges in the Spring. You can choose to cut them down and remove all foliage debris in the Fall or Early Spring. It’s your call.

Our Display Garden at Griffin’s Greenhouses is cut in the Fall because we don’t have time to do it in the Spring (busy in the greenhouse). You may choose to leave up all perennials or even just certain ones (ornamental grasses and hydrangeas, for example) and deal with them in the Spring. Offering a haven for pollinators to over winter and bird species to ride out Winter storms is a strong argument for leaving the clean up until mid-Spring.

To cut back herbaceous perennials, use sharp cutters or shears and chop each plant to four to six inches in height, taking all excess foliage and leaving short stems or stalks. Your compost bags or pile will be full! Perennials that don’t need cutting back include low growing ground covers such as sedum, ground phlox and hens n’ chicks. Unsure if your flowering shrubs (i.e. hydrangeas) can be cut back? Do call a good garden centre for advice.

Tender Summer bulbous/tuberous plants such as dahlias and cannas are cut to soil level, bulbs removed, scrubbed free of excess soil and left in the outdoor sun to dry for about a week. Once completely dry, do store in a paper bag in a cool location indoors. Tropical plants can be sprayed with preventative insecticidal soap and gradually brought to a sunny window inside your home and away from frosty nights.

When beds are empty of annuals and excess perennial foliage, spots to plant Spring flowering bulbs can be decided. Tucking in tulips, crocus and daffodils that will bloom in April and early May while other perennials are leafing up is a fabulous way to add a succession of bloom to your garden. Garlic is
planted in the Fall, for harvesting the following Summer.

Once Spring flowering bulbs are planted, shredded leaves can be raked into the bed as extra covering
and protection in case we get a winter without snow – yes, snow is our friend as it insulates all below it!

Leaf mulch should also be hilled up around the base of roses and tender perennials (Rose of Sharon and perennial hibiscus) around mid-November, as one of the last tasks of the season.

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