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Pruning perennials in Autumn?

I know that most of my hardy perennials and shrubs should be cut back properly in the Spring but can I tidy them up a bit now so I don't have to look at messy plants all winter?
I know I can't touch the hydrangea, I know I can tidy the roses, and I have been vigorously dead heading and shaping the dwarf buddlea.
What about verbena, geums, decorative grasses, globe thistle, geranium, rudbeckia?
Most are still growing and flowering?
Is there a list of plants to cut back in Autumn? Or do I need to research every plant?


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    I leave perennials, unless there's really manky, damaged foliage, which does happen regularly here as it's wet. Old stems will often just pull away anyway.
    Geraniums are best given a shear after flowering as it can promote a new flush of flowers, but even if that doesn't happen, it promotes fresh green growth which is much better. Things like thistles can be left of you have birds which will eat the seeds, but if you don't want that, or dont want them seeding around, you can remove the stems. 

    Grasses shouldn't really be pruned or tidied until late winter/early spring, when you can remove the old stems, avoiding any new growth. 
    It really depends how much the old foliage bothers you! It's worth doing a light tidy up of dropped foliage round the bases if you want to apply a mulch though. Again, depends how much there is. I just bung it on top of leaves.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    I do the same as Fairygirl. If the growth is flattened, wet and revolting, I remove it. Otherwise it can look attractive, shelter the lower parts of the plant and sometimes benefit wildlife. Talking of which, soggy leaves on the ground are a gift to slugs, so that's another reason to move it.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,737
    I'm the same. 
    If it looks awful, I remove, if not I leave seed heads for wildlife and foliage for shelter .
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,946
    I do the same as @Fairygirl and @Hostafan1. 😊 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Thanks all - there is a trend here I will follow!
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