Originally Posted by HydrangeaHeaven
Winterizing daisies, echinacea, salvia, irises, ornamental grasses
Do these plants need to be cut back every year? If so, how far down does one prune the plants, and when? Any help would be appreciated. I put an offer on a house that has numerous amounts of these, and hydrangeas. I believe these are all perennials?
It's a little early to worry about winterizing now. Deadheading should be done now as part of weekly or even daily maintenance to keep the plants blooming. If you have a special reason to have fewer flowers because you want seed, as Ohiogirl does, then prune less often or leave a handful up untouched but clean the rest. As far as fall cleanup it will depend on the kind of winter you get and if you have any diseased plants.
Since you didn't say where you live (usually gardeners talk about their zone and state) we'll start with a general how it is done. When the first really cold weather hits most gardeners will clean away anything that has died, has browned or dropped off. In areas with lots of snow cover the cleaner the better so that things aren't molding away or creating a haven for mice and voles. In areas with little snow and cold temps many gardeners will leave stems and leaves in place as a "blanket" for the roots, sometimes even adding extra mulch and leaves on top. Some use the last of their compost beneath the leaves. In areas where winter is not quite so bitter one may want to clean up everything and use a light layer of mulch to protect any half hardy plants.
Once the first real warm weather arrives you will need to start pulling up any leaves, stems and uncomposted materials from close to the plants. Be careful not to pull out anything still firmly attached or you may kill the plant by pulling it's roots up.
Now to some specifics. Daisies cover a lot of territory but for the most part most plants that have that look will need the same care as the Echinacea. Wait until they are dead after some hard frosts and clean according to whatever climate you are in. Salvia will be the same. If you spot any molds or rusts make sure these dead stems and leaves get thrown into the garbage can not the compost pile.
Dead heading is trimming away any finished or almost finished flowers (they start looking a bit brownish or curled up). Some people don't mind the stems sticking out and cut right under the flower while others will cut down to the first set of leaves below the flower.
There are several different forms of Iris and they will have slightly different needs. Most of them need their leaves to make enough energy -stored over winter in the rhizome (a kind of root)- and don't need to be trimmed unless that are weak. If the tips have turned brown or the leaves seem weak and bend easily they can be trimmed so that between 5 and 8 inches of leaf is above ground. Some gardeners think it makes their garden neater to cut the fans and others are hoping to reduce borer predation. If you are in an area where borers have become a concern check in with someone local (Extension agents, Master Gardeners, or local nursery owners who sell the kind of Iris you have would e the best) on what to do and when.
Ornamental grasses often are left up until very early spring as garden or yard filler (sometimes also called visual interest) even when they have turned brown. In very early spring go out and cut the whole thing down to a neat ball at its densest point above ground. For big grasses this might be 10 inches high and for smaller grass as little as 4 or 5 inches above ground. If you have a lot of snow cover you will want to trim in late fall before it snows. If you think it looks neater in winter when everything is trimmed there is nothing wrong with doing so in fall.
Originally Posted by Ellwood
First year I cut the hydrangea down in the fall and the following year I didn't get any flowers. Last year I left the woody stalks and this year I have some flowers. I have ornamental grass around pool area and was told by landscaper to cut it down to three inches, which worked fine.
There are different kinds of Hydrangea and some cannot be trimmed in the fall, some can be trimmed anytime and one variety should not be trimmed at all. By cutting all of last year's growth you cut off the stems that had buds in the making. You can cut off spent flowers as they finish and you can trim the entire hydrangea up to about mid July depending on where you live. After that the "regular" hydrangeas have started forming buds for next year's blooms on stems that grew this year as well as last. Leave your Hydrangea alone this year and you should see a lot more blooms next year. Check the recommendations on this site, and find the type you have so that you know exactly when and what to prune.Pruning Hydrangeas