get perennials ready for spring
REPAIR AND REPLACE TAGS —?Sure, you think you’ll remember the name of that new perennial next spring. But a tag is a big help. Now is the time to check old tags to make sure you can still read them, or put out new tags.
CUT OR LEAVE STANDING? — Research shows that perennials are more likely to survive winter if you don’t cut them off until spring cleanup time. The exceptions are plants that harbor pests, such as peonies with botrytis or iris with borers. Cut the foliage down, and if possible, burn it. Can’t burn in your municipality? Bury the material in the trench with the weeds.
TUCK ‘EM IN FOR THE WINTER — If you live where the ground freezes, a thick blanket of mulch over your perennials is good as an insurance policy. Your objective is not to keep the soil warmer, but to keep it at an even temperature. Wide temperature fluctuations between cold and warm damage roots and often cause winter kill. Once the plants are completely dormant and the ground is beginning to freeze, 4 to 6 in. of straw or crisp oak leaves (don’t chop them up first or they pack down too tightly) will do the trick. Leave this winter mulch in place until the weather warms up in spring. You’ll know it’s about time to remove it when the forsythia starts to bloom.
Read more about this and other stories in the current issue of Garden Gate magazine!