Pinching Back Perennials

by Irene Ecklund

Pinching back at this time of the year is a good thing for many tall perennials. It will make them fuller and less likely to fall over in the wind as well as improving their overall appearance. With some that I grow this method works well until July 1. Tall Purple Asters are so beautiful when they bloom in the fall and keeping them pinched back controls height. Also, when they are done blooming, you should deadhead them after a freeze to prevent reseeding. I love Purple Asters and about now I plan to cut mine back in half.

Pinching back with the plants I’m going to be talking about means taking them back much more than you would Mums. Pinch back Mums until July also, but just take out their tops. Yellow and green and white Artemisia is a very good background plant for texture. By keeping it pinched back you prevent reseeding which is a good thing with this plant, and it controls it’s height. Boltonia, which blooms white in the fall along with Sweet Autumn Clematis, is another favorite of mine. Boltonia needs to be cut in half or more right now. The rabbits seem to love mine and they have done the job for me this year. They reseed and come up all around where you have them planted. They pull up easily as do the Asters and Artemisia.

Flowering spring shrubs that have already bloomed should be trimmed back now for reshaping or size effect if they need it. Normal cutting back of any flowering shrub is done after it blooms or it won’t bloom in this growing season.

Irene Ecklund is a Master Gardener from Omaha, Nebraska.

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