Do you want content like this delivered to your inbox?

The Results May Surprise You


Plants To Leave Alone This Fall

Dana Bossert

Coming from a hard-working Midwestern family, I've grown up with a strong work ethic and strong family values...

Coming from a hard-working Midwestern family, I've grown up with a strong work ethic and strong family values...

Sep 9 3 minutes read

If you're used to deadheading all of your flowers, raking up all of your leaves, and generally "cleaning up" your yard before winter, the ideas below might seem strange to you. But more and more gardeners and horticulturists have grown to understand that leaving certain kinds of plants and flowers alone before the winter can provide a wealth of benefits, including:
  • protection against cold damage to the plant's crown,
  • adding visual interest to your property,
  • serving as a safe place for native pollinators and beneficial insects to overwinter, and
  • acting as a valuable source of food for birds.
Take, for instance, hydrangeas. Some might say that the dried flower looks ugly or unkempt, but others notice a different kind of beauty. Dried hydrangeas, after all, are used in a variety of decorations and displays

Ornamental grasses can provide some interest to your yard during the colder months, especially when covered with a layer of freshly fallen snow. The plumes of switch grass (Panicum), zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'), and feather reed grass (Calamagrostis) make quite a show! Leave them standing until spring then cut them back before the new shoots appear. These grasses can also act as a wind barrier, protecting some of the more fragile plants around them. Keep in mind, however, that some grasses won't work with fire mitigation practices.

Leaving the seed heads on perennials such as (Rudbeckia), oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) can attract birds to your yard. Goldfinches, for example, love coneflower seeds and will perch on top of the plant while they delicately pluck out one seed at a time.

Other perennials have sculptural forms that contrast nicely with fresh snow later in winter. For example, the seeds of sedum 'Autumn Joy' (Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy') and Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) have large, round lacy globes that hang on all winter long. Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) and blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) have interesting elongated black seedpods that really stand out against the snow.

Finally, there are the marginally hardy perennials that are more likely to survive the winter cold if you leave their stems to collect leaves and snow for insulation and moisture. Common plants not to prune back this fall include garden mums (Chrysanthemum spp.), anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), red-hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria), and Montauk daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum).

Whether you implement some of these fall ideas or just one, you may be surprised at the new and lovely sights that greet you this winter.

~Lam Tree Service

Selling Your Home? 

Get your home's value - our custom reports include accurate and up to date information.

Get Home Value
We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience and deliver our services. By continuing to visit this site, you agree to our use of cookies. More info