The Q&A Archives: fall care for perennials

Question: I have a perennial garden in my back yard that I just planted this year. It did great all summer long, but I was wondering how to care for them this fall in preparation of winter. The plants that I have planted there are fern leaf lavender, limelight hydrangea, salvia, shasta daisy, mums, mammoth mums, yarrow and asters. I was also wondering about my mandarin honeysuckle. We have it planted in pots, by a trellis on our patio. What should we do with it in the winter? Does it need to be covered? Thanks for you help.

Answer: There's not much you need to do for your plants to prepare them for winter. Wait until frost kills the tops back, then cut them off at ground level and mulch over the tops to help protect the roots. Your lavender and hydrangea do not need to be cut back until early spring. At that time remove any winter damage but don't cut the plants all the way down to ground level. Your honeysuckle is hardy but being in containers will subject the roots to extensive cold. I'd either insulate the pots by wrapping them, or sink the pots into the soil for the winter. After frost has nipped the tops of your plants you can cut away the dead stems. Best wishes with your garden!

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