The winter can be very taxing on us gardeners. If you are like me then you might be itching to get your hands in the soil again. This time of year the weather is sporadic. Some days are frigid cold, some are wet and gloomy, and when we are lucky we get a few days of warmer weather when the sun peaks out from around the clouds. On days like these I try to get outside and get some of my winter landscape and garden cleanup done.
March is a great time to do these tasks. Any flowering perennials with old dead growth from the previous season can be removed. I typically go around my beds with my garden cart or Kawasaki mule and remove dead plant matter from my black eye susans, salvias, grasses, veronicas, yarrow, and other flowering perennials. For your woody perennials that bloom on new wood such as lilacs, butterfly bush, and hydrangea species arborescens and paniculata (such as Limelights & Pee Gee varieties) you can go ahead and remove any dead or diseased growth and can cut them back by removing up to 1/3 of the plant. Pruning plants allows us to remove dead or diseased tissue, maintain or manipulate plant size, as well as provide a clean new cut to help stimulate healthy new growth. Just decide how much growth you would like to remove and make the cut just above the plant's node. If you are unsure on how to do this, there are lots of tutorials gardeners have recorded on YouTube.
Photo courtesy of https://growbeautifully.monrovia.com/when-to-prune-hydrangeas/
For older species of hydrangeas such as macrophylla (change color based on pH) & quercifolia (Oakleaf) you only want to remove dead or diseased growth as pruning more off of them can reduce this year’s blooms.
Getting outside and doing some of these simple garden tasks helps me to feel like spring is just around the corner! What are some of the garden tasks you like to get done this time of year?
Are you interested in planting a cutting garden this year? In our next blog post I will share with you where to find some of our favorite flowers to start from seed and how I go about deciding what to grow.