You either spent time or money this past spring and summer caring for the plants in your garden and making the beds look good. But many people neglect the last gardening task of the year before the snow falls: preparing perennials for winter.
Perennials are the plants that grow and bloom over the spring and summer and remain dormant during the autumn and winter. During the fall, it’s important to give these plants some attention so they’ll flourish next growing season.
Check out the five tips below to help prepare your perennials for the cold winter months.
Tip 1: Cut Back Your Perennials
Once the plant’s foliage dies, use your pruners to trim the foliage back. Remove all wilted leaves and decaying plants. When you cut off dead plants, you’re preventing disease and decreasing the chance of harmful insects.
You’ll want to cut the flower’s stems, too. Cut the stems to soil level. A good rule of thumb is to keep them approximately seven inches from the ground.
After cutting make sure the intact plants are free from disease or pests and get rid of any weeds that have sprung up.
Tip 2: Dig Up Bulbs
Spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths can withstand the cold and are fine staying in the ground all the time.
But if you have flowers like gladiolus that typically bloom in summer and you’re concerned they may not make it through the winter months, grab your shovel. Then carefully dig up the bulbs and store them indoors.
Bulbs that need to be removed and stored are dahlias, cannas lily and gladiolus are not hardy enough to withstand the winter weather. Some can be simply stored in your basement in peat moss. Make sure the bulbs are dry before you store them otherwise they will rot.
Check out this great website, which provides valuable information for storing bulbs during the winter.
Tip 3: Remove Old Mulch
Once the ground freezes, make sure to take away the old mulch. You can replace it with floating row covers, pine needles, and/or chopped leaves. This protects the plant roots and soil. By providing an extra layer, you’re actually insulating the soil and moderating the temperature during the cold months.
Tip 4: Feed the Flowers
With your shovel, layer approximately five inches of compost beneath the plant. As the compost breaks down, nutrients are released. This will improve the quality of the soil. It’s important to hold off on doing this until after the first freeze. Otherwise, rodents may choose to make a nest!
Tip 5. Prepare Flower Beds for Spring
Autumn temperatures make it an optimal time for yard work. So, if you’re thinking about some new flower beds, now’s the time to dig them up.
It’s also a good time to plant some new perennials or transplant old ones to a new location. The cool temperature is optimal for roots to establish themselves. Take care of your yard now before the snow flies and you will have an easier start to your spring landscape cleanup.