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Penstemons looking tired

EmerionEmerion Carmarthenshire Posts: 420
My penstemons held on to their leaves all winter looking really good. But with all this stormy weather, which has stripped a lot of the leaves, they are now looking bare lower down and a bit straggly. They are only a couple of years old. Should I have cut them down a bit last autumn, even though they were looking good? Should I cut them down now, or later in the spring? Or not at all? This picture shows the worst bit. The one on the right is the only one that’s broken in places. 

If at first you don’t succeed, have some cake. 


  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 11,241
    They will need cutting back to healthy shoots near the base, but I would not do it until mid to late March, depending on where you are.
    He calls her the chocolate girl
    Cause he thinks she melts when he touches her
    She knows she's the chocolate girl
    Cause she's broken up and swallowed
    And wrapped in bits of silver
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 77,352
    I absolutely agree with @punkdoc ... cut them hard back to strong shoots near the base, but not until the worst of winter is over  :D  I'd then give them a bit of Fish Blood and Bone.  
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • If you are experiencing strong winds you could cut them down by about half to reduce rocking and breaking stems, or put stakes around them now. Finish cutting them back later when they have new shoots. Penstomens stems are very brittle so break easily and sometimes they split right down into the crown which can kill the plant.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,148

    Penstemons looking tired

    I know how they feel....

    I'd agree - wait until the temps are more favourable for cutting back. If they're really bothering you [and I can understand that - aesthetics  ;) ] you can do as @Joyce Goldenlily suggests, and tidy them a little bit.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • EmerionEmerion Carmarthenshire Posts: 420
    Thank you all. I think I will tidy them a bit because the winds are still really bad. 
    If at first you don’t succeed, have some cake. 
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