The Q&A Archives: Garden Clean-Up

Question: As the snow melts, I see lots of dead leaves around my irises, daylilies, and other perennials. Should I cut this brown foliage off before the plants sprout this spring? Should I have done this last fall? Or can I just leave them as is?

Answer: If you like a tidy look in your garden, you can carefully prune off the dead foliage in late fall. This can also help reduce pest problems by removing overwintering diseases and insects. Here in the north, I usually leave the dead foliage where it is, soit can help insulate the plant's crown over the winter. If it looks really untidy, I may remove some in the spring, but I generally leave it where it is; the decaying leaves provide a natural fertilizer.

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