The Q&A Archives: Fall Clean-Up

Question: In June of this year I had a garden installed, and I am not quite sure what to do with the plants now that it's fall. Can you help? Also, I have a Hydrangea 'Blue Bird' which did not flower this summer - should it have done so? The garden was so lovely that I would like not to lose anything over the winter.

Answer: Perennials, by definition, should come back year after year without much attention from us mammals. Annuals of course live only one season so they need zero help from us in the Fall. Perennials will have a happier hibernation and have a greater chance of surviving the winter if you leave the foliage intact until it browns and withers. Roots of the plants use the foliage for their food-making process. After foliage browning feel free to cut the foliage back to approximately 3 inches if you feel it looks untidy. The browned stalks of some plants have attractive features such as seed pods which can add interest to an otherwise gloomy winter landscape. <br><br>Mulching the beds is not necessary for plants hardy in your climate, but if you would like to do so, wait until the ground freezes and add a light, airy mulch such as pine boughs. By the way, it is not unusual at all for Hydrangea to not bloom its first season. Mine did not bloom until their second season and were not at all impressive until their third.

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