Winterizing Perennials FAQ
MINNESOTA WINTERS!Warren....Thanks for your question. All of the plants you included in your list are very (very) hardy, and should have no trouble making it through the long freeze-up. Your winters are very much like ours and, hopefully, we'll both get a good protective snow-pack all the way through this one.
10-18-00 How do we prepare our shade perennials for winter? Specifically I am concerned about my lungwort, hosta, bergenias, and ligularia. Right now they are green-looking after several hard freezes. Do we trim off green leaves or leave them until spring? Thanks for any information possible. Warren
Snow acts as an insulating "blanket" that actually protects perennials. When there's little or no snow, ground and plant crowns are more exposed to freezing-thawing-freezing-thawing etc., and therefore damage. We do nothing but fall cleanup of withered, frost-blasted and brown stems and leaves. If you have very little or no snow cover, a mulch of loose straw is recommended... otherwise a mulch is probably not needed....I mulch nothing in our Zone 4B shade gardens. Yes, some needles and maple leaves drop to the ground but hardly qualify as mulch. (Bergenia usually retains its leaves through the winter.) As long as there is any green left in the leaves of your perennials, allow them to remain. When — and if — they're obviously "done" for the season and appear "dead", go ahead and cut them back. (It's not absolutely necessary, but it'll dress up your garden, give you something to do, and make it a bit easier next spring when there's so much to do all at once.)
Or.....you can right now just turn your back and allow "nature" to do it's thing.... trimming and raking it all up next spring..... whichever suits your schedules. Plants that were affected by mildew, mold, or other foliage-spotting-or- distorting diseases should always be cleaned up and the trimmings destroyed (don't even put diseased foliage in the compost pile). Fred.
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