Now is the time to tidy up perennial beds

Because of the crazy growing season and the weather ups and downs, plants in the perennial garden have bloomed much earlier than during a normal season.

Flowers that would normally be blooming toward the middle to the end of August are starting to bloom now. We are also seeing this in the natural areas and ditches as well.

This also means that some of the earlier blooming plants such as coneflowers are finished blooming and aren’t looking all that great.

So now is a good time to touch up the perennial garden if it’s looking a bit weary.

First of all, any plants that haven’t been deadheaded and need some cleaning up should be addressed. Depending on the plant, you can either deadhead (remove dead flowers) individual flowers or cut the entire plant back to the ground or maybe just half to one-third back.

My coneflowers, for instance, are finished blooming and there are a few new blooms trying to make an appearance. By cutting all of the old bloom off, I rejuvenate the plant and allow that second flush of blooms to show through, giving me lasting color through at least August and maybe into the fall.

My catmint has finished its second round of blooms and is beginning to flop again. I always cut catmint back to the crown. The new plant takes about 10 days to two weeks to grow back. This always looks better than the sprawling catmint with the center open.

There is one plant in my perennial garden that I have stopped deadheading, and it’s because of the bees and other pollinators. I have found that lamb’s ear or Stachys is a fantastic plant for pollinators.

Granted it doesn’t always look its best after blooming; in fact, it’s pretty straggly and not quite pretty at all. However, I watched a few years ago and the blooms still continue up the flower stem, and the bees can’t stay away.

So in this case, I am sacrificing looks for the health of our pollinators.

If you have perennials that have been ravaged by diseases or insects and the foliage is a lost cause, you can cut these plants back to the crown or to the ground. Again, depending on the plant, they may come back and give you a second flush of flowers and last until winter.

Yarrow is a good example of a plant that will come back and bloom again later in the season. Some varieties of Penstemmon, on the other hand, are really slow to recover and may not show any flower color.

However, the foliage looks a lot better when it regrows, so it won’t be detracting from the overall aesthetics of the garden.

Don’t fertilize perennials at this time. You don’t need to encourage new growth this late in the season, as it won’t be long until they being shifting their energies into storing sugars for the winter.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Home Garden

Lack of sunlight may cause winter weight gain, research suggests
Lack of sunlight may cause winter weight gain, research suggests

We often blame our added winter pounds on the holidays. All the gatherings of family and friends combined with good food, often take the toll on our waistlines. But if you're one of the many who laments adding a few pounds in December, it may not actually be entirely due to changes in your diet. In fact, new research suggests that a lack of sunlight...
25 Dayton-area galas and charity events to put on your calendar in 2018
25 Dayton-area galas and charity events to put on your calendar in 2018

This is a rare opportunity to dine with Dayton’s Mayor Nan Whaley and other esteemed guests from My Project USA. Proceeds from the evening will be used to protect and empower Dayton’s needy and underserved families.  WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, January 20 WHERE: The Golf Club at Yankee Trace, 10000 Yankee St., Centerville ...
5 things to know if you’re trying to conceive

If you are trying to conceive, you may first want to make sure your diet is conception-promoting. Research suggests a connection between certain foods and nutrients and the probability of conception. And, it is not just women who have to watch what they eat — but also men. For men, different foods and nutrients can effect sperm count and production...
D.L. STEWART: Tired of the daily grind? Talk to your gadget!

Because walking across a room or tapping on a keyboard requires way too much energy, technology is providing exciting new solutions to rescue us from the brink of our daily exhaustion — digital assistants. As the Associated Press reported this week, “From your couch you, you can now ask the Echo’s Alexa assistant to play your favorite...
Here are the big coupon deals of the week
Here are the big coupon deals of the week

Coupon availability and coupon values may vary within different regions or neighborhoods. Colgate Toothbrush This week at Walgreens, select varieties of Colgate toothbrushes are on sale for $2.99 each. Use the $1 off one Colgate 360 or floss tip toothbrush coupon found in the January 7 SmartSource inserts. Visit and you can...
More Stories