To keep your landscape looking as clean as possible during the winter, Schendel recommends cutting back herbaceous perennials in the fall.

What Exactly is an Herbaceous Perennial?

An herbaceous perennial is a non-woody plant that lives two or more years and returns each spring with new growth from the roots.

We recommend cutting back most herbaceous perennials in the fall, unless they are spring-blooming like roses, liriope and hydrangeas. Below is a list of perennials we often see in Kansas yards that we recommend cutting back before winter.

Perennials To Cut Back In The Fall

  • Daylilies
  • Coneflower
  • Hostas
  • Peonies
  • Salvia
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Coreopsis
  • Liatris
  • Catmint
  • Astilbe
  • Sedum
  • Coralbells
  • Sage
  • Phlox

So When?

There are many different opinions on when to cut back perennials, but as a rule of thumb, it’s best to cut back perennials as close as possible to dormancy or freezing temperatures. Although many of your perennials may currently be green, they won’t be for long.

How Much To Cut Back

As for how much to cut back, you can leave a couple inches of foliage. Some perennials like hostas will brown quickly and you can easily pull the tops off, leaving the root system underneath to go dormant over the winter. The plant will pop back up in the spring.

Although there are many specific recommendations about which plants should be cut back more than others, or which ones should be cut back entirely, it’s difficult to mess this part up. Perennials come back year over year, so unless you hack away at the root crown of your plant, the chances of it coming back in the spring are high.




A Few Exceptions

Fall-blooming perennials like mums and ornamental grasses are also an exception to fall cutbacks. We recommend cutting them back in the spring.

Need Some Help With This Fall Project?

If you’re interested in Schendel assisting you with cutting back perennials, we’d be happy to get you a free estimate for a fall clean up.

Our recommendations are gathered from many sources like K-State Horticulture but are also based on years of experience maintaining thriving landscapes.



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