Forum home Plants

What to do with perennials that didn't die down over winter?

YessicaHaircutYessicaHaircut Sussex coastPosts: 104
I have a number of perennials planted last summer that continued to flower to a greater or lesser degree well into or even throughout the Winter. I've neglected the bed over winter, planning on doing a spring weed and tidy up as I understand this is better for wildlife, but now I'm flummoxed as to what to do with these? Cut them? Leave them? Cut the brown bits, leave the green? I'm new to all this, and it really didn't help that my plants apparently didn't read the instruction book this year. ;)

I've taken some pictures:

I have an erodium that's been quite overtaken by weeds as you can see. Obviously I'll remove the weeds first but should I then cut it back, if so, by how much?

Next up, I have a few nemesias that bloomed throughout winter and look to be thriving, but my sister mentioned she cuts hers back to keep them neater. To be honest, I will probably move these too/possibly pot them up as I have other plans for my skinny front border this year. Should I be thinking about dividing them too?

A digitalis 'Pink Panther', which confuses me as there is green stem above the more dead looking bits, so not sure where to cut.

And a verbena. Leave it and 'deadhead' or chop it back?

I also have a gerbera which for some reason I didn't photo, which has bloomed very pathetically over the winter, but doesn't look great. Can get a photo if it will be of any help.

And not perennials but my snapdragons look like they've probably survived the mild winter. Should I chop those to the ground too? (Again can get pics if that helps.)

Thank you!


  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,218
    @YessicaHaircut The Erodium looks fine as it is other than other things around it .If you would like to divide it you can now. Use grit when replanting and you will sort anything else in the process. The warmer the better for Erodium
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,143
    For the foxglove and the verbena I would cut back the old flowering stems but leave the basal leaves. They should put up new flowering stems for this year.
    The nemesias look fine as they are and it would be a shame to cut them back - maybe do it when/if they stop flowering - but I've never had one not die back so I don't know for sure.
    The erodium I think just needs the weeds clearing out. If you find any straggly stems you could cut them back.
    Snapdragons I think I'd cut back any dead or straggly stems to where there's new green growth and see what happens.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,218
    @YessicaHaircut Nemisias it seems a shame to do anything they look so good I would wait and if they stop flowering cut them back.
    Stachys just dead head and cut off any old leaves.
    Digitalis remove the flowered stem to ground level , they are biennials but by the size of the leaves you should have more flowers this year again clear the old stuff out .
  • YessicaHaircutYessicaHaircut Sussex coastPosts: 104
    Thank you for the advice, @GardenerSuze and @JennyJ. :) I feel much more confident about tackling things now. I'm about to get out there and make a start.

    Should I divide the erodium? Is there any disadvantage to not dividing it? If I split it does that mean the resulting plant as it grows this year will end up smaller than it would otherwise have done?

    It's a perennial foxglove that flowered loads last year. It's definitely considerably bigger now, so hoping for a great display this year, fingers crossed.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,143
    edited 23 March
    It won't hurt the erodium to divide it or not, but if you're going to, do it soon before it gets further into growth. Generally you split perennials when they develop a bare area in the centre, which I can't see in yours, or if you want more of them. In the second case you can sometimes dig a piece off the outside and leave the rest in, and fill in the hole with some soil or compost.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,218
    @YessicaHaircut Absolutely fine to leave Erodium, no disadvantage to leaving it. I mentioned It just in case you would like to make more plants as now is the perfect time. Yes if you split you will have smaller plants this year but as long as they are in full sun they will flower. If the erodium had been dead in the middle which can happen with perennials I would say definitely split it.
    Nemisias sometimes survive the winters here but it was very interesting to see yours had not stopped flowering. It is possible that when you come to cut them back they may run out of steam, they are shot lived I just think enjoy them.
  • YessicaHaircutYessicaHaircut Sussex coastPosts: 104
    I may well try dividing the erodium then. I do like it, and it would be nice to have another. First time splitting a plant, so it feels a bit daunting, but there's a first time for everything.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,218
    @YessicaHaircut Just take your time, make sure you get all of the root. Erodiums gently pull apart you could probably split into three plants. If you have some grit use it when replanting and mix in with the soil. Plant at the same level as the original plant and firm in gently. Water well after planting and then water until established.
  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze South NottsPosts: 1,218
    @YessicaHaircut I am going to back track and say leave your Erodium for now I am sure it will flower well. Gardening should not be daunting but a happy experience. You will need to split your perennials at some point probably when they don't flower so well or they are dead in the middle. You will have an idea how to do so now.
    The snapdragons should be fine just cut out any old flowers .Not sure about the Gerbera I would probably give up but who knows with climate change in the future
  • YessicaHaircutYessicaHaircut Sussex coastPosts: 104
    Thanks so much.
Sign In or Register to comment.