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Perennials Plants To Prune in the Spring: 'M' through 'Z'

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Sea Holly (Eryngium)

Sea Holly (Eryngium)often gets a flush of new growth in the fall and cutting it back can cause unnecessary winter die-back.

Photo: © Marie Iannotti

The following list finishes off the recommendations of plants that are best pruned in the spring.

  • Mums (Chrysanthemum) Leave the foliage in tact to protect the plant’s crown. All the better to let the flowers bloom well into the fall. (USDA Zones 5 - 9)

  • Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale) Poppies appear to be ephemeral, disappearing or declining after the blooms fade. However a new flush of foliage should emerge and can be left on the plants over winter, to act as a mulch. (USDA Zones 3 - 7)

  • Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa columbaria) You can remove the old flower stems, but this plant is so temperamental, leaving the old foliage may be the only way you will know where the plant was, come spring. In warmer areas, where it is hardier, the foliage may be evergreen. (USDA Zones 5 - 7)

  • Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) There’s not much left to this plant in winter. But many gardeners like to leave it standing so they’ll remember where it is, since it is late to emerge in the spring. (USDA Zones 5 - 9)

  • Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) Coneflowers don’t look terribly attractive in winter, but they do attract and feed birds. If you’d like both birds and aesthetics, you can always prune your coneflowers in July and get squat, sturdy plants that will provide seed and remain standing. (USDA Zones 3 - 8)

  • Queen-of-the-Prairie /Queen-of-the-Meadow (Filipendula rubra / Filipendula ulmaria) Prairie or meadow, these tall plants almost always flop over before spring and can be cut back in the fall, after blooming. (USDA Zones 3 - 9)

  • Red-Hot Poker (Kniphofia) You can trim back the foliage as it begins to decline, but don’t cut it back entirely. The crown is very sensitive to cold and leaving a clump of foliage will help protect it. Trimming by ½ will keep the foliage from completely flopping over and retaining too much moisture around the crown. (Zones 5 - 9)

  • Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) Like its cousin Lavender, Perovskia doesn’t like to be trimmed back in that fall, because it’s tender growth is too sensitive to cold. Wait until new growth appears in the spring and then cut back to about 6 - 8". If the only new growth is from the base of the plant, the entire top woody section has died back and it can be pruned to the ground. (USDA Zones 5 - 9)

  • Sea Lavender (Limonium latifolium) The flowers are held so high on this airy plant that it’s easy to forget the cluster of leaves at the base. Go ahead and forget them. Let them be for the winter and clean-up any die back in the spring. (USDA Zones 3 - 9)

  • Sea Holly (Eryngium) It's the rare Eryngium that isn't cut back for drying, but a good deadheading in late summer will encourage a flush of basal growth that will carry the plants through winter. No further fall pruning should be done. (Zones 3 - 8)

  • Sedum Many of the tall Sedums can remain attractive throughout the winter, even holding caps of snow on their flowerheads. ‘Autumn Joy’, in particular, holds up very well. The basal foliage appears very early in spring, so Sedum can be one of the first plants you prune in the spring. (USDA Zones 3 - 10)

  • Tickseed (Coreopsis) Like Chelone, most coreopsis seem to fare better if allowed to stand during the winter and cleaned-up in the spring. (USDA Zones 4 - 9)

  • Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii) Keeping the foliage on until spring seems to improve Chelone’s winter survival. (USDA Zones 3 - 8)

  • Valarian, Jupiter’s Beard (Centranthus ruber) To be honest, I don’t have much luck keeping this plant alive through winter. But I’m told that cutting it back to about 6 - 8 inches in late summer and then leaving that new growth over winter, increase the plant’s chance of survival. I’ll let you know. (USDA Zones 5 - 8)

  • Wand Flower (Guara) Guara is such a short-lived perennial that allowing the flowers to remain and possibly self-seed may be the only way you’ll see another Guara pop up in the garden next spring. (USDA Zones 6 - 9)

  • Willow Amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana) Amsonia holds it’s shape better if sheared by about 1/3 after flowering. You’ll lose the seed pods, but you’ll prevent rampant self seeding. However after this initial shearing, Amsonia responds better to being cut back in the spring, rather than the fall. Spring pruning seems to rejuvenate it. (USDA Zones 3 - 9

Perennials Plants To Prune in the Spring: 'A' through 'E'

Perennials Plants To Prune in the Spring: 'F' through 'L'

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