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What to do with dead perennial foliage?

So traditionally one would just remove the old dead foliage from plants such as nasturtiums and viper bugloss  and then put in for composting. However, i'm trying to garden with wildlife in mind, so I'm thinking of leaving the plants in situ, so insects can hibernate in them and/or the plant matter mulches down itself.

Is this the best thing to do? Or perhaps I should leave foliage until say march and remove it then?


  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    One way is to "cut and drop". Cut and don't clear, just leave the matter where it falls. Or make twig piles.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,183
    Some plants leave behind stalks that just look dismal and depressing, like nasturtiums and delphiniums.

    Some leave behind stalks that are sharp and potentially dangerous, like phlox.

    Some things go matted and slimy and unpleasant, like montbretia (now called something else but I can’t remember what).

    These are things that I clear up in autumn and put on the compost.

    Other things just die down gracefully, like blackcurrants, or leave stalks that are pretty in the frost, like Sedum spectabile.

    These things I leave to rot down until the spring. If they are still around then, I put them on the heap.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 24,022
    I pulled out my dead nasturtiums the other day. They were nothing but dead straw. If somebody wants to use it to shelter in or use as nesting material, they can find it on the compost heap just as easily.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • cornellycornelly Posts: 968
    When I can get onto the garden the dead vegetation will be removed to the compost heap, we have a pile of small tree branches up the top of the garden for wildlife, next to the compost heaps.
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