How Do I Prepare Perennials for Winter? (archived thread)

taba(z5b MO)January 1, 2013

sue - I have a small flower garden(perennials) day lilies, gladiolas and such how do I prepare them for a cold, snowy, winter? Do I cut them back, mulch around them, this is my first garden, please help it's getting cold here already.

Amanda PA z 5/6 - Many mums are supposed to be hardy, but are not reliable. Here in Pittsburgh, the worst problems for mums are cold with no snow cover, frost heave and wet soil that freezes. Your best bet is to divide your plants that survive and see if anyone local has divisions to trade. Also minimize above problems by mulching, planting in well drained soil, etc. White and rust colored mums seem to be especially hard to winter over. I don't know why.

Andie MO/Zone 6a - A good mulch cover is essential to prevent heaving. Leaves are a good and cheap solution. I also walk the garden when we get unusually warm weather in January and February, and tap down the soil in places where I see evidence of heaving. Mums are unpredictable. I have had a bunch of failures, and then again, I have plants that thrive with little or no care. Who knows!

JP WI z4/5 - I've had tremendous success with a yellow mum call Westpointer. Two have survived with no care whatsoever (though I'm going to follow advice here from now on). Two Radiant Lynn's have done fairly well too.

JJJC zone5a ILL - I do not cut down my garden mums. I practice the "old" way, Summer blooming perennials get cut down to about 4", but Fall blooming perennials don't get their trim until spring. I do mulch the mums though and watch for heaving if snow cover is light. I guess what works for you best, stick with. Half the fun of gardening is in the trying!

Doug ONT/Z5 - put your coat on and run right out side and dig up those glad bulbs. They are not winter hardy. Clean them up and put them in a cardboard box with dry wood shavings or peat and store them in your cool part of the basement to keep dry. Fruit cellars work fine but not everyone has one.As for your day lilies nothing needs to be done, you can cut the foliage back to the ground after a freeze. Most perennials like a little blanket of warmth over them. Leaves,straw,snow(yes I said snow)to keep them from thawing out on the warm winter days and to protect them from drying winds. You can wait until spring to cut back most. Michigan is probably zone5 most will survive.

Rick - I do like to cut back all of my perennials to keep the bugs at bay, and from nesting during the winter. I cut all plants to two inches from the ground. I do not cut back any of my ground cover such as sedums, ajuga, or chicks and hens. I do however cut back bishops weed. It is wise to dig up any canna tubers as they are not winter hardy also. I just take a few clumps and keep them in my basement in a brown paper bag, and then break them up into small tubers for planting in the spring. I prefer evergreen branches to cover my perennials as they do not squash down and smother the plants....

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