When it comes to pruning perennials, most gardeners complete this task in the spring or fall. Did you know the late summer is also a good time to give your perennials a trim? The heat of the summer can take a toll on a garden and tidying your perennials will give your yard a much-needed boost.
If you are unsure of the plants you can prune in the summer just go online to Google or YouTube. You might try searching in this manner “Plant name + summer pruning”. Searching this way will also reveal other resources you can review that are specific to the plant you want to prune and it can guide you through the process.
There are generally 3 ways to prune your perennials:
Hard Cut-Back: This technique is used for your perennials that only flower in spring. They often look barren after the blooms have finished and as the hot summer drags on they begin to look tattered and worn out. Some examples of plants that fall into this category are Bleeding Heart, Catmint, Blue Salvia, and Hellebores. It is alright to go ahead and give them a good haircut which means pruning back one-third to one-half of the plant. You will not be harming the plant and in a few weeks, you will be pleasantly surprised at how healthy and rejuvenated your plant looks.
Light Pruning: This pruning method is used for perennials that bloom in the late spring and early summer. Once the plant has finished blooming you can lightly cut them back. This will encourage the plant to grow shorter and stockier. Some plants that fall into this category include Bee Balm, Columbine, Corydalis, and Phlox.
Deadheading: We have covered deadheading in previous blog posts, but as a reminder, it is the removal of spent flowers. It should not be confused with the two techniques listed above which involve the actual cutting back of the leaves and branches of the plants. Deadheading is done after the initial blooms have finished. Some perennials that benefit from being deadheaded include Black-Eyed Susan, Blanket Flower, Coneflower, and Yarrow. You often find additional flower buds forming on the same stem below the faded flower. When you see this you can remove the spent flower by cutting the stem just above the newly forming flower bud and in no time at all, you will have pretty new flowers to enjoy.
All of these techniques will help keep your gardening looking great throughout the growing season.