Perennials forum: cutting my perennials back?

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Name: Jelinda AKA jojoe Ivey
Thomson,Ga. (Zone 8a)
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jojoe
Jan 3, 2013 8:39 AM CST
I am new to this so please bare with some of the simple questions please!!! I have mums,Lantana,Hibiscus and wild hibiscus,penstemon,Agastache 'blue fortune' etc.. These plants that have now died back,do i simply cut them back to the ground once they have died back completely.Should i cover them with pinestraw,leaves etc... after they are cut back.
I also have a bleeding heart vine some say it's cold hardy here some say no?? I did cut it back as far as it had die back covered it and put a bucket over it,hoping the sun would warm the inside of the bucket & help protect it some at night??
The Agastache has it's spent flower (i don't know what to call it) will post a picture of it.Do i just leave them on and is it going to die back in my zone 8 ?Thumb of 2013-01-03/jojoe/285cf2


Thank you for any advice Smiling
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jan 3, 2013 8:59 AM CST
There is no right or wrong general answer to this question. Some people prefer the tidy appearance of a cleaned-up bed, others prefer to let nature take its' course until spring. Some years I do nothing, some years I trim the ugly stuff above the ground. Seed pods/heads should either be discarded or saved. Letting them fall in abundance at the base of the mama plant is usually regrettable. I think the most important thing is putting on a good layer of fallen leaves, which I try to do whether I've trimmed anything or not. I wouldn't cut down anything still green like your pictured plant.

I've not tried the bucket, but have had good results with putting a pile of leaves on questionably hardy stuff, like Bougainvillea, Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus,) Caladiums. Failures in overwintering can usually be linked to excess moisture combined with cold, not necessarily just cold. The leaves aid in that regard, directing water away somewhat, improving drainage, and helping to moderate the soil temp from wild fluctuations. Luckily we don't have to worry about frozen soil.

Regarding trimming Lantana, numerous people have told me to not trim them until spring because fall pruning can sometimes kill them.

Hibiscus macrophylla blooms on old wood, so trimming anything now besides obviously dead parts could cause you to miss next years' show. When these start showing green buds in the spring, I trim lightly for shape, and to make sure none of the branches are too long/floppy to stay upright, then prune more heavily as necessary after the blooms are finished.

Generally, even when things are trimmed neatly in the fall, it's usually necessary to do some of it again in the spring to address tips/branches that might have died over winter, might have grown more than you thought it would, you notice that the really vigorous buds are much lower on the stems...
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Name: Julia
Washington State (Zone 7a)
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springcolor
Jan 3, 2013 4:27 PM CST
JoJoe, Never be afraid to ask questions. That's what ATP is all about.
I just leave all mine and clean up in the spring. The bucket is a good idea but I would remove it in the day as the temp. warms.
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Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
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NJBob
Jan 3, 2013 6:33 PM CST

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I cut back in the Fall , but never to the ground. I leave around 8 inches of plant to help protect the crown of the plant. I have had better overwintering results since doing it this way. You do not have to wait for plant to die back all the way. Semi evergreen plants like Heuchera and Hellebore get damaged foliage cut back in the Spring.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Jan 3, 2013 7:11 PM CST
I agree with purpleinopp; instead of using a bucket to protect a marginally hardy plant, I'd use an empty, overturned and weighted plastic plant pot with drainage holes. The holes will allow excess condensation and sun-produced heat to escape. Drastic changes in day/night temps and excess moisture build-up can be harmful in some cases.

I cut off the top third to one-half of my mums and toss the cuttings on top of what's left. They return year after year using this method. Smiling
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Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
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ge1836
Jan 6, 2013 5:14 PM CST
JoeJoe Welcome and bring on the questions.There are always "lurkers" who learn from gardeners who ask.Your questions benefit people you might never know.
I believe your agastache is Blue Fortune. Its hard to keep here in Z6a, mine dont last more than a couple of years.I do cut mine back.
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
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virginiarose
Jan 7, 2013 12:35 PM CST
jojoe said:I am new to this so please bare with some of the simple questions please!!! I have mums,Lantana,Hibiscus and wild hibiscus,penstemon,Agastache 'blue fortune' etc.. These plants that have now died back,do i simply cut them back to the ground once they have died back completely.Should i cover them with pinestraw,leaves etc... after they are cut back.
I also have a bleeding heart vine some say it's cold hardy here some say no?? I did cut it back as far as it had die back covered it and put a bucket over it,hoping the sun would warm the inside of the bucket & help protect it some at night??
The Agastache has it's spent flower (i don't know what to call it) will post a picture of it.Do i just leave them on and is it going to die back in my zone 8 ?Thumb of 2013-01-03/jojoe/285cf2


Thank you for any advice Smiling
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!


Jo, I love the bleeding heart vine! There are a few different kinds and the one I saw is only hardy to zone 10 (Clerodendrum themsoniae) If I were you I would dig it up and plant it into a pot, then you can carry it into the garage or house when it gets cold. Some say 20° and some say 45°, maybe the house to be on the safe side. Clerodendrum x speciosum is good for 8b-zone11. Do you know which kind you have?

If you cut off the spent flowers you will not have any seedlings so if you want seedlings just leave them on and for the more invasive plants you might want to cut them off right away so you don't end up with a hundred of them. Some plants like coneflowers, I leave all the seeds on for the birds. The rest I cut off.

All the other stuff, just rake out the dead leaves and clean up as best you can. You don't need no straw or mulch because in your zone it will cause stuff to rot.

I cut back hardy Hibiscus to about three feet first of december and first of february cut all the way down to the ground. I did this last year and they came back beautiful.

Lantana, I cut it back all the way to the ground, then I dug up the root and it still came back! the new cultivars are sterile and not as invasive. It got too big for my flower bed and that is why I dug it up.

Good luck with your garden, no need to be shy we love to help. Big Grin Lovey dubby Thumbs up nodding
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
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virginiarose
Jan 7, 2013 1:30 PM CST
Clerodendrum thomsoniae is very invasive in zones 9-11, it sends up underground shoots and spreads rapidly in sandy soil. Also laughs at full strength round-up. Yikes!! You cannot kill this... Blinking Blinking
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
Name: Jelinda AKA jojoe Ivey
Thomson,Ga. (Zone 8a)
If a door closes look for a window!
Heucheras Plant and/or Seed Trader Hostas Hummingbirder Region: Georgia Cactus and Succulents
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jojoe
Jan 8, 2013 12:33 PM CST
I was very surprised when i was cutting back my mums because after i cut off the dead stems & pulled back the leaves the mums have already started coming back.Should i leave them uncovered or replace the leaves to protect the new growth.Dec is when it starts to get cold & Jan & Feb, are our coldest & some times wet months.

So cover mums back up with leaves or leave them uncovered ??
Thumb of 2013-01-08/jojoe/a374a3
Thumb of 2013-01-08/jojoe/e0d380

You can see what i mean about the leaves.I cut what was on top & then pulled the leaves back to find the new growth.

Thanks for any advice,have a nice day!!!
A green thumb comes only as a result of the mistakes you make while learning to see things from the plants point of view!!
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
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chelle
Jan 8, 2013 12:58 PM CST
I lightly cover my new growth until quite late in the springtime. Late frosts in wet spring conditions seem to do more damage here than winter cold. I only uncover mums after I'm convinced that frosts are over.

Hope you have a great day too, Jelinda! Smiling
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jan 9, 2013 9:05 AM CST
I said: Hibiscus macrophylla
I meant: Hydrangea macrophylla
Sorry for any confusion! I don't know jack about any Hibiscus...
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Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY (Zone 6a)

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PollyK
Jan 9, 2013 10:15 AM CST
Jojoe, I would probably cover them back up, although in your warm climate they should be fine without the cover.
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
Money talks but Chocolate Sings!
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virginiarose
Jan 9, 2013 6:44 PM CST
jojoe said:I was very surprised when i was cutting back my mums because after i cut off the dead stems & pulled back the leaves the mums have already started coming back.Should i leave them uncovered or replace the leaves to protect the new growth.Dec is when it starts to get cold & Jan & Feb, are our coldest & some times wet months.

So cover mums back up with leaves or leave them uncovered ??
Thumb of 2013-01-08/jojoe/a374a3
Thumb of 2013-01-08/jojoe/e0d380

You can see what i mean about the leaves.I cut what was on top & then pulled the leaves back to find the new growth.

Thanks for any advice,have a nice day!!!


They are fine Jo, just leave them be. Just prune them to eight inches in June and then they will be short and bushy in the fall. If you don't prune them they will get too tall and they will fall over and droop.
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
Name: Jelinda AKA jojoe Ivey
Thomson,Ga. (Zone 8a)
If a door closes look for a window!
Heucheras Plant and/or Seed Trader Hostas Hummingbirder Region: Georgia Cactus and Succulents
Sedums Sempervivums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Tropicals
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jojoe
Jan 10, 2013 7:16 AM CST
I want to say you all are a great bunch.You have answered every question i have asked and been so nice & polite,i just want to say thank you all very much! Smiling

Okay,now my next plant nodding Penestemon,i think i spelled that correctly couldn't remember if it was 3 e's or what.I have 3 plants.2 have died back completely ,1 actually had a bloom on it last month. Shrug! Do i cut these back now for the compost pile & how far down.I have MS & my rock garden has been in the making since this past summer,i'm slow and with all the medical bills money is rare.I buy just a couple plants that reseed themselves and i don't mind waiting for the bed to fill in,i will probably still be working on putting it together.Reason for this out of the blue info,the Penestemon and agastache are 2 of the plants that i have put in the back of the bed,then upright stone crop sedum tallest to shortest.Then in front my semp's etc... in front. I have to come up with other plants that can live in this bed it's on a slope & very well drained,in the sun (mostly).Any idea's for good plants that fit my description of what i need will be greatly appreciated.I am only using perennials.

Thank you all
Thumb of 2013-01-10/jojoe/d7021c
Thumb of 2013-01-10/jojoe/dbbea4
These pictures were taken last month,the other 2 which i don't have pictures of have completely died back??
A green thumb comes only as a result of the mistakes you make while learning to see things from the plants point of view!!
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
Money talks but Chocolate Sings!
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Hibiscus Dragonflies Daylilies
Bee Lover Dahlias Butterflies Hostas Birds Lilies
virginiarose
Jan 10, 2013 8:29 PM CST
Eastern Purple Coneflower and Rudbeckias.

I have a lot of seeds I need to get rid of before they get too old. Tree mail your address and I will send you some seeds to keep you busy this spring. Do you wintersow? Last year I did wintersow at the end of December, but they sprouted and froze. So this year I will wait till end of January so they will not sprout so soon.

http://www.wintersown.org

Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood

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