In early July the perennial garden needs some attention. The summer weeds, such as crabgrass, are about to go from tiny to huge, so gardeners are wise to pull them out now. Secondly, plants that bloomed early in the summer benefit from some clean-up, deadheading, or pruning. My general rule is that any perennial that flowers before June 25th must remain attractive after blooming or it gets sheared or cut to the ground.
The peony and basket of gold foliage is still attractive so that is allowed to stay. The salvias, nepeta, penstemons, silene, bleeding heart and fleece flower, however, get sheared or cut down and the heuchera is cleaned and deadheaded. I go into the garden with gloves, hand pruners, and the shearing tool I featured on this post. Here are some examples of the cleanup I did last weekend.
I wait until this basket-of-gold drops its seeds before deadheading. This is an example of an early blooming perennial that brings a lot to the party even after it has finished flowering.
Basket of gold does look better when the empty seed husks are removed, however.
I use my rechargeable Black and Decker shearing tool for cleaning up perennial geraniums that have finished flowering, cutting down or shearing Nepeta, and for deadheading flower stalks and blemished leaves from Heuchera plants.
This Pinot Gris Heuchera looks so much better when cleaned up in early July, and it frequently continues to flower the rest of the summer when I keep it dead headed.
The large fleece flower wants to take over the garden. I use two methods with this Persicaria. First, I prune the canes that go out to the sides down to the ground. As long as the fading flowers look good the center of the plant remains. Later I’ll deadhead these and if the plant isn’t looking good after that, I cut it right to the ground. It will grow back with fresh foliage and in a warm fall will even flower again.
You can see that I’ve cut the outside stems down completely, as well as those that have spread off to the right side of the plant.
Now this fleece flower takes up less room. In fact, I’ll be able to plant some annuals to each side that will add to the garden from July until hard frost. Some of my favorites for this purpose are any of the Plectranthus, red-leaf hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella), coleus, especially ‘Red Head’ and ‘Sedona’, and the purple fountain grass.
Don’t view this mid-summer perennial maintenance as work…look on it as part of the on-going conversation you have with your flower gardens.