Senior Member
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Joined: Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:13 pm

Cutting perenials back

Hi forum members,
I was wondering. When do you cut perennials back. I'm talking about those that don;t bloom again, like jap iris, etc? Do you cut them now or wait till fall?

I ask because I can use them in the compost pile as a green now, but if I wait till fall they'll be a carbon.

Thanks in advance

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Senior Member
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Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:50 pm
Location: Bucks County, PA

You can dead-head the spent flowers now, but don't cut back the foliage. The plants need the foliage to build up food/energy for next year. Wait until the plants go dormant in the fall.

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Perennials that bloom in early spring need to be cut as soon as they finish blooming. This way they will be mildew free and have new clean leaves.

Spring bloomers need to be able to flower and leaf freely. Cutting back after blooming helps prevent early spring disease.

They can be cut back hard, or to the ground, if necessary. Nurseries do this all the time, but it is not recommended.

Late summer or early fall blooming is different. If you let them get too big and cut them back, they will produce multiple shoots. Fall perennials must be cut back if you want a great show.
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All those "must/ need to be" !! Everyone has their own way of doing things and different things work in different gardens/ climates. I don't cut perennials back until they are dying back in the fall. I figure the leaves are still feeding the plant as long as they are green.

Iris, in the fall I cut back to a short fan. Some other perennials I cut back to the ground, once it is dormant. Different plants have different requirements too.
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