With fall cleanup comes the desire to prune and shape all of the perennials in your garden but please, do not. The act of pruning stimulates growth on a plant and when winter weather is fast approaching it is a better idea to slow the growth of your plants. The best tip is to do nothing, and I mean nothing. Do not even cut off dead blossoms on your rose bushes. Allowing your roses to keep their dead flowers helps the rose develop rosehips which is a lot like a seed and this slows down the growth.
Fall, garden mums are another example of a perennial that should not be cut back after the blooms fade. Cutting back and fertilizing plants should be stopped around mid-September. Concentrate on raking up dead debris such as leaves and twigs. Start spraying your plants and the ground around your plants with soap and water to smoother insects and diseases. Prepare to add mulch and/or straw by buying it in advance.
Some time late in the fall season to early winter, perhaps after Thanksgiving would be a good time to remove those unwanted dead flowers from your perennials and rosebushes but just cut off the blooms and not much of the stem. Stem pruning on roses and on hardy mums should be done in April and remember that on all of the rest of your blooming plants, pruning should be done only just after they bloom. Lilacs bloom in April/May so they should be pruned in May/June. If you prune lilacs during the fall season then you are cutting off next year’s blossoms.
In northern Indiana when plants bloom in the fall, pruning can take place any time during the winter such as December, January, February or early March as those plants are dormant and can be considered as one. Hydrangeas are a good example of this.
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