Magazine article Sunset

Getting Your Perennials Ready for the Stretch Run

Magazine article Sunset

Getting Your Perennials Ready for the Stretch Run

Article excerpt

Outdoing themselves with waves of color in spring and summer, most perennials are ready to be perked up this month. Plants vary as to how much reshaping they'll need--anything from a pinch to severe pruning may be in order.

What to look for

To know which plants to tackle, look for a sprawling shape. Spent blooms and developing seeds give plants an unkempt appearance and take away energy plants could channel into manufacturing food for next year's growth. When cut back, some plants bloom again. (Plants grown for interesting seed pods, such as Chinese lanters and Gladwin iris, I. foetidissima, should not be trimmed.)

Where to cut depends on the plant

On finer-textured plants like brachycome, cranesbill geraniums, ground morning glory, and Mexican daisy, snipping or pinching 3 to 4 inches off side shoots (or as needed) will help to maintain their mounded shape and keep them flowering.

Flowers on long stems--coreopsis (shown above), lavender, Scabiosa, and lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina)--can be deadheaded; cut off spent blooms where they meet the mound of foliage. …

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