Recently we discussed having the nerve to haul out the annuals to make way for the spring bed linen. This meant needing to be swift and definitive.
Herbaceous perennials on the other hand require the opposite treatment, they require persistence.
A crucial element to ensuring you get a terrific program of flowers from your borders (or pots, plot and so on) is to permit the foliage of herbaceous plants the full time they need to naturally dieback in autumn.
A cut above: Scott states Inula Hookeri requires longer before cutting back.
Herbaceous perennials are characterised typically as plants which do not have a woody stem, where the above ground development passes away back (or more normally is cut back) in fall. The root systems below stay dormant over winter season. These then burst back into life in spring when enough wetness and temperature levels are reached in the soil, rising fresh stems to kick the process off all over again.
A lot of plants that live for more than 3 years are classified as seasonal. This differs from their counter parts of annuals where the plant grows, flowers, sets seed and dies in one year.
Biennials are where the plant grows and produces foliage in the first year, then flowers, sets seed and dies in the 2nd year. By providing the foliage on your herbaceous perennials a chance to go yellow then brown and starting to pass away off; what you are in fact doing is to increase their energy stocks for next year.
The more time the leaves need to photosynthesize at a time when sunshine length and quality is continuously decreasing, the much better. The plants are charging their batteries so to speak by sending out those essential sugars and starches developed in leaves, down to the root systems.
Mellow yellow: Now is a great time to raise and split prior to it’s unrecognisable.
Lift and split herbaceous plants
Prior to they go totally brown and unrecognisable, you have a special window to lift and divide your herbaceous. This will assist enhance it in another way in addition to offering you more plants free of charge. I’m shrieking to stop here however since we will in fact discuss this subject next week in Part 2 (what a tease I am eh?)
The big chop
As soon as all your herbaceous plants are at the stage where they are looking brown, tatty and/or bit sorry on their own then it’s time for the huge slice. There are lots of arguments as to how the very best or most efficient way to do this is. Many usage excellent old secateurs, minding not to chop too wildly in about blindly held foliage or you could lose a finger!
That might sound a little bit dramatic but I’ve seen more events with secateurs at herbaceous cutting back time than any other!
Chop slice: Dedicated volunteers get to work chopping back the herbaceous plants.
Thankfully no journeys to ARI yet however. There are some who use more unique tools like a Japanese rice sickle to hold the foliage at the bunched foliage at the top then slice liberally at the bottom of the stems.
On a larger scale, I have actually heard of people using a scythe (nice and eco-friendly) or what we do at Pitmedden Garden in the lower garden is to utilize the flail mower.
This might look like overkill but in fact it works very well. What pre-owned to take a good couple of days can now be performed in a couple of hours.
As well as this, the flail put on a high setting will liberally chop the foliage in great sized shredding’s which we then leave on the beds over winter season as a mulch.
Tools of the trade: The Japanese rice sickle, envisioned, can be utilized to hold the bunched foliage on top then slice freely at the bottom of the stems.
This mulch assists on several levels. It assists to lower ‘topping’ of the soil over winter season. This is when consistent rain, frost or snow conditions cause the soil to form a hard crust which needs to be shelled out in spring to loosen it up, else the newly rising herbaceous shoots struggle.
The mulched shredding’s also minimized the variety of pesky sprouting weed seeds that appear in early spring due to the fact that the layer of mulch obstructs crucial light they need to grow.
All set for the slice: Now is the time to cut down.
Fear not, your herbaceous will easily push up through a layer of mulch if it is not used to freely. A layer around 50-75mm is perfect. Yet another benefit of the mulch is it will maintain moisture and heat in the soil below which indicates that the herbaceous will begin popping up quicker than a soil left naked above and hence it will grow faster and likely stronger, especially if likewise offered an additional wee spray at spring time of top dressing like loam, compost or leaf mould just the plants are away to soar. Do this every spring and you’ll have consistently pleased plants.
Make sure and happy gardening.
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