Pruning Perennials

This time of the year many of my perennials need to be pruned. Some need pruning to encourage flowering, others because they have grown too tall, and some so the stems will not be so long that they will fall over if not pruned. Below are some examples from my garden:

My bearded iris by this time of the year look tired and need pruning

My bearded iris by this time of the year look tired and need pruning

Prune the bearded iris just above where the fan of foliage starts

Prune the bearded iris just above where the fan of foliage starts.

Mexican sage looks great but if you do not prune it, the fall flowers will have to be staked

Mexican sage looks great, but if you do not prune it, the fall flowers will have to be staked.

I like to take Mexican Sage down at least 50% this time of the year to assure strong stems for its fall blooms

I like to take Mexican sage down at least 50% this time of the year to assure strong stems for its fall blooms

Once my cone flower blooms fade I cut the flower head off just above where they are branching in hopes to encourage more flowers

Once my coneflower blooms fade, I cut the flower head off just above where they branch to encourage more flowers.

This Argentine Skies salvia always seems to dominate the border with it size. To keep it in check I prune it when flowers are almost non-existant

This Argentine Skies salvia always seems to dominate the border with it size. To keep it in check,I prune it when flowers are almost non-existant.

Argentine Skies Salvia was severely pruned and should produce an outstanding flower show in early fall and also be in proportion to the other plants in the border

Argentine Skies salvia was severely pruned and should produce an outstanding flower show in early fall, and should also be in proportion to the other plants in the border.

Other perennials I prune now include garden mums, perennial salvias, feverfew, and black-eyed susans after they finish blooming. Many folks may say pruning perennials now is a mistake, but for me, I want a great fall show of flowers in my garden. This, along with a light fertilization, and keeping them watered gives me a great presentation.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

2 thoughts on “Pruning Perennials

  1. How far back do I prune my native salvias to encourage fall bloom? 1/3 or 1/2?
    I love your website!!! Please keep up your daily posts.

    • It depends on how tall they are now, and how tall you want them when they bloom in the fall. My max is half on the very tall ones, and all the others about a third.

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