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Perennial bed

Apologies if this is an obvious question but,
I’ve planted my first flower bed this year. I’ve filled it with a mix of perennials which have stopped flowering now and I’m unsure which ones need to be cut back and if so how far you back you cut.
I have echinacea, phlox, Veronica, penstemon, scabiosa, polemonium and  adenophora. Are these mostly treated in the same way?
There is also a few cordyline and an eacallonia, but I’m guessing I leave those alone.
Any advise is greatly appreciated!


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,762
    Hi @Graham Letts - no need to do anything other than remove dead stems  :)
    Most of those will just come away in your hand, but you can snip them just above the more obvious greenery if you prefer.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • That’s good news, thanks very much 
  • chickychicky Posts: 10,402
    I’d leave the foliage (dead stems and all) on the penstemon as they can be a bit susceptible to winter cold, and leaving the foliage on til about March helps to protect them.

      All the others are ok to cut back and/or leave til spring, depending on how tidy a gardener you are.  If you like the tidy look then chop away now, but the birds, bugs and wildlife will thank you for leaving the clear up til spring🕷🕸🐜🐛🦋🐝🐞
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,762
    That's a good point @chicky. I don't grow penstemons as they're a bit iffy here. 
    You could try doing some cuttings from them @Graham Letts. That gives you back up  :)

    I usually just pull away any bits of stem that are already detaching themselves from the main plants. They would blow away anyway  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,682
    I would leave whatever growth remains standing (not flattened by snow or wind) until early spring. It will protect slightly tender plants, provide a bit of wildlife value, and look good with a dusting of frost. And you'll be reminded what plant is where, if you want to do any spring planting/division.
    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • Thank you all for all the great advice!
  • Thanks for all your advise on this. I’ve left all the old stems over the winter and just tidied them away and I’ve got lots of new shoots coming through.
    One last quick question, I’ve attached a new photo, these ones didn’t die back and still look pretty green, but a little woody. I think this is the penstemons but could be phlox, would I cut them down? Or just take off the seed heads?
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,422
    My penstemons look like that too. I'll be leaving them a few more weeks until the weather gets a bit warmer, and then cutting them down to maybe 4 or 6 inches (or down to the ground if really woody at the base). If you live somewhere mild and sheltered you'd probably be OK to cut back sooner.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,854
    I'm in Devon , I cut mine back last week.
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,422
    I must admit I was tempted to give mine the chop when it was warm two weeks ago, but deep down I knew it wouldn't last.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
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