By Emily Reed, DSBG Horticulturist
You’ll notice many herbaceous perennials have faded during the fall, and are ready to be pruned back for the winter. Hardy bananas, ginger, and cannas have all begun to brown. With a sharp, clean pair of pruners, cut these perennials near to the ground, and compost the leaves and stalks. Many gardeners remove spent blooms on their perennial flowers, because they might seem unsightly. Others will leave the seed heads on Echinacea, Helianthus, and Rudbeckia as forage for birds during winter.
Many deciduous shrubs can be pruned back during this time as well. In particular, Hydrangeas will produce bigger blooms if pruned back periodically. “To improve vigor, remove the oldest canes. When a hydrangea gets old and woody, it can produce smaller blooms. Regular removal of a few of the oldest canes at the soil line can keep the shrub vigorous, producing large and abundant flowers. The same method can keep a shrub from getting too tall by targeting the tallest canes for removal.” (Fine Gardening)