Do not cut these perennials in autumn

yellow coneflowers
yellow coneflowers

Are you in the process of autumn cleaning in the perennial bed? Then be careful not to cut off all the plants. Especially pretty are the faded perennials when they are covered by snow and frost.

Autumn is the classic time for tidying up the garden. Faded perennials are cut to about 10 centimeters (4 in) above the ground so that they can take off with renewed vigor in the spring and the garden doesn’t look too messy over the winter. This is especially important for plants that put out a lot of effort during the blooming season, such as hollyhocks or blanketflower. Pruning them back in the fall will extend their life.

Another advantage of autumn pruning is the plants can be easily processed, because over the winter they often become soft and muddy. In addition, no new shoots get in the way of the shears now. But be careful not to cut off the newly formed overwintering buds, from which the plants will sprout again the next season.

Which perennials should not be cut in autumn?

So that the beds do not look too bare, evergreen perennials such as barren strawberry (Waldsteinia), candytuft (Iberis) and some cranesbill varieties should not be cut back, unless they are proliferating too much. The bergenia (Bergenia) even scores with reddish leaf coloration. In addition, some perennials also enrich the garden in winter with their attractive fruiting and seed heads, for example, honeysuckle (Aruncus), yarrow (Achillea), live-forever (Sedum), Jerusalem sage (Phlomis), Chinese lantern (Physalis), coneflower (Rudbeckia) or purple coneflower (Echinacea).

Especially grasses like Chinese silvergrass (Miscanthus), dwarf fountain grass (Pennisetum) or switchgrass (Panicum) should be left alone, because they now unfold their full splendor. Covered with hoarfrost or snow, the cold season produces images that conjure up a very special atmosphere in the garden. The plants themselves are better protected from frost and cold when uncut. But not only the garden owner benefits. For birds, the withered seed stalks are an important source of food in winter. Beneficial insects find good winter quarters in the plant thickets and stems.

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