To Cut or Not to Cut…

To Cut or Not to Cut…


This week we have been bombarded with questions about exactly what to cut back in the garden. That is exactly why I am giving a garden walk on this very subject on Saturday morning.


Siberian iris foliage has turned yellow, time to cut it down. The red twig dogwood stems remain all winter.

Our rule is simple: if it’s still green, leave it alone. If it is brown or yellow, you can cut it down IF it is anherbaceous perennial. What does herbaceous mean? That is a perennial that goes away completely in the winter and then emerges anew every spring. Examples are threadleaf coreopsis, hostas, and daylilies. These are different from woody perennials- they keep a low, woody structure. Examples are Russian sage (Perovskia), Montauk daisies, and lavender.  These are not cut back hard now; we wait until spring.


Evergreen Epimedium foliage stays up all winter and gets cut down in the spring

Some perennials hold onto healthy basal foliage all winter long. Bergenias and Heucheras are classic examples. Thus, if the leaves look good, leave them alone! Hellebores are left up, as are Tiarellas and Liriope grasses.

For VERY specific, detailed information on the entire Putting Your Garden to Bed Process, download our handout. Click here.