The Importance of Fall Clean-up

By Mona Kneuss

Fall maintenance is one ways to keep your plants healthy so lets get started.
By now most of your plants are looking tired and ready to be put to bed for the winter. All of the annuals in your pots will need to be emptied and the pots emptied of their soil so they don’t freeze and brake. The soil can be stored in a plastic container with a lid of some kind to be used next year.

Now it is time to look at your beds look for plants that did not do well this year and think about replacing them or moving them to a better suited location. Maybe your tree has gotten a lot bigger and that perennial would like some more sun, or the tree you took down in the spring created a lot more shade then you thought and that Hosta is not doing so well now.
Once you have things where you want them it is time to start cleaning your perennials . This needs to be done to get rid of any diseased foliage that may be on your plants and or any spores that may spread something to your plants. Roses are a great example of this. Black spot can be spread form spores on rose leafs that fall to the ground in fall if not cleaned up they can spread the next year.

Blackspot on a rose

Blackspot on a rose

There are also perennials that need to be cut half way down these are ones that need some extra  protection in winter for example, Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia): Very sensitive to cold so allow the foliage to remain or, they could be semi evergreen like the Hellebores: Do not cut back. The plants are evergreen and bloom in the late fall through early spring depending on variety.

Let us keep in mind that most perennials will have some specific instructions so make sure you know what they are (before) you do your maintenance. There are many plants that  have winter interest like grasses. There are also some plants that are a  good food source for the birds like cone flower.

Plants pushing through leaves

Plants pushing through leaves

One thing is to make sure to weed and keep the seeds of weeds out of your gardens as much as possible or you will have more next year.  You may also want to put extra leafs from your yard on to your flower beds for protection, just remember in early spring to take some of that extra off or your plants may not reach daylight.

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