The Q&A Archives: Pruning Back to the Crown

Question: When you say to cut back perennials to the crown, where is that? Can I use regular household scissors or should they be gardening shears?

Answer: The crown of the plant is the area at or just above the soil surface, where the stems emerge from the roots.

When cutting spent flowering stems on perennials, try to cut them just below the mound of foliage, so the bare stems are hidden. When cutting back dead foliage at the end of the season, you can cut closer to the ground. However, in general, avoid cutting stems or foliage closer than 2 or 3 inches above the crown, so you are sure not to damage the growing points.

If the stems are small, you can use regular scissors. But well-sharpened pruners will probably give you a cleaner cut--important for minimizing diseases.

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