Many gardeners struggle with knowing when and how much to cut back their garden plants. Pruning and trimming plants is not difficult, but you should be aware of a few basics before you go hacking away like Edward Scissorhands!
You will need to assess your situation regarding plant growth and your climate. However, as a general rule, most plants should be cut back in the fall to prepare the garden for winter. Let’s look at some common plant types and when to cut them back.
Trimming, Pruning Bulbs
When your bulb flowers have finished blooming, it is a good time to remove the flower. Keep the greenery on however until it starts to yellow and die. Typically this will be in the fall. Make sure you cut back all of your bulbs come fall and that you split them and replant if necessary.
Trimming, Pruning Perennials
Fall is the best time to prune back perennials. You should use clean scissors to cut everything back to about 3 inches above the ground. Of course, bushes and large plants may not need such aggressive pruning. Take care of all of your pruning before the first freezing come fall.
Once you have pruned and cleaned out the other unnecessary plant matter from your garden, it is a good idea to apply a thick layer or mulch or compost. This will help protect plants from the freezing weather that is about to hit. Delicate plants may also need to be sheltered using burlap or other techniques once they have been trimmed back for the fall.
Fall is a busy time for gardeners. Although your plants are no longer growing rapidly like in the summer months, you have to take the time to prepare for winter. Trimming back plants is one of those important preparations that you need to remember each fall.