Whether winter is just around the corner or already gone, there are many chores that need to be done outside of the home and out in the yard. Unfortunately, cold weather can be intimidating and prevent many homeowners from doing the basic upkeep on their yards and gardens during the cold season; thus resulting in less-than-radiant yards and gardens in the following spring, summer and fall seasons. Here are a few tips on what should be pruned or cut back and when.
Plants to Prune or Cut Back in the Fall or Early Winter
Many gardeners, both new and veteran, misunderstand the point of pruning a flower, shrub or tree and thus, assume the best time to prune is in the fall or early winter. Unfortunately, this can result in complications for the plant in question. Pruning is a way of rejuvenating a plant and it’s growth or blooms. Therefore, pruning in the fall is generally warned against. However, there are species where an exception can be made, including species such as the Daylily, the Hardy Begonia and the Peony.
Ornamental Grasses: To Cut, or Not to Cut?
Ornamental grasses are of controversy in the online gardening world. Some gardeners feel that ornamental grasses absolutely must be cut back or else they won’t grow as tall or beautiful in the following growing season. Meanwhile, other gardeners feel that their grasses add interest to their winter landscapes and that not cutting back the grasses immediately in the fall does not harm-nor benefit-their ornamental grasses.
In short, if you’re severely concerned as to whether your specific ornamental grass would fair better being cut in the spring, the fall or not at all; consult the nursery from which you bought the plant. Or, perform an online search using the plant’s scientific name and check reputable websites (such as those that end in .gov or .edu) for tips regarding your specific species of ornamental grass.
Plants to Prune or Cut Back in the Spring
Any shrubs that bloom especially early in the spring should be pruned following their first (finished) bloom of the season. This helps to prolong the blooming period for these particular plants and is really one of the only exceptions when it comes to pruning plants in the spring.
For shrubs that are blooming either in the late spring or the early summer, they can be pruned in the following early spring. Many other garden variety plants should be pruned during the spring as well. This includes flowering plants such as the Aster, the Black-Eyed Susan and the Hosta.
Also, if you choose not to cut back your ornamental grasses in the fall, it is generally recommended that you do so in the early spring prior to new shoots arriving. This well help the new shoots fully grow in, as waiting too long to cut back the old grasses could mean that you will need to cut back both the old grass and the new shoots, which could be detrimental to the plant, depending on the species.
About.com: Fall Perennial Gardening: Perennial Plants to Prune in the Fall
About.com: Suggested Perennial Plants to Prune in the Spring