Cleaning up the garden in the fall can be a bit confusing, especially when it comes to cutting back perennials. Should you leave them alone or cut them back as soon as they fade? The answer, of course, depends on the plant.
Advantages of leaving dried seed heads and foliage of healthy plants intact until next spring:
Visibly damaged or infested foliage should be removed as soon as possible, but if you are cutting back foliage as a preventive measure, wait until after several hard frosts have killed back the tops. Depending on the plants, hand pruners, hedge clippers, or even scissors will work fine, just make sure the cutting edges are sharp.
Advantages to cutting your perennials back in the fall:
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I now live where my perennials do well all winter and do not need much special preparation in the fall. When I lived in a colder clime, I found that they would come back the next spring if I took certain steps. I always made sure the flowers were removed before the first frost.
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Every fall, I'm unsure of what's best to clean-up perennials like Black-Eyed Suzies and cone flower or echinacea. Sometimes, the plants have not returned the following year.
How do I ensure I will have these plants the following season?
By Pat C
I cut-back both of these plants in the fall (Michigan).
I live in zone 5. I leave purple cone flowers and other perennials in my garden until spring. I never have a problem with them coming back year after year. Hope this helps you.
The black-eyed Susan will self-seed, ensuring plants next spring so don't cut back until seeds have had a chance fall from flower heads. Also, leave the seed heads to feed birds in the winter. Cone flowers should come back no matter when you cut them back.