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Preparing Perennials for Winter

Procrastination is a good thing when it comes to cleaning up your landscape in fall.

Research has found that leaving disease and insect-free perennials stand for winter increases their hardiness and vigor.  Plus, many of your perennials provide homes for overwintering stages of beneficial and beautiful insects like butterflies.

I like the winter interest the seedheads of coneflower, rudbeckia, hosta and astilbe provide as they peak through the snow.  The swaying ornamental grasses add motion and sound to the often barren winter landscape.

And best of all the seeds of many perennials provide food for the birds.  This is a great way to add color, motion and entertainment without added work or money on your part.

Then in late winter or early spring, as the snow clears, you can cut back the plants and compost that winter interest.  And I find by then - most of us are anxious to get out and work in the garden. 

A bit more information:  Heel in any perennials that did not get planted this season.  Simply dig a trench in a vacant space in the garden.  Set the containers in the trench with the stems above ground.  Cover the pots with soil and water in for the winter.  After the ground freezes, you can cover the plants with evergreen boughs for added insulation.

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