Help me! Newbie Gardener knows nothing about perennials : LUSENET : garden project : One Thread

OK, I know this is probably some really basic obvious thing that everybody knows, but unfortunately it's SO obvious that none of the gardening websites MENTION IT.

Here's my question: we're renting a house, and the previous tenants planted flowers and other interesting plants all over the place. I'm pretty sure that most of them are perennials (I think that's what you call something that comes up all by itself every year, right?).

Anyway, when they all died in the winter, we just sort of left them there. So we have these big dead stalks on the ground. And my question is, are we supposed to get rid of those by yanking them out of the ground? Or would that kill the plant? Should we just trim them? Am I supposed to mulch?

I'm so clueless! Help me!

-- Jan (, March 24, 2000


Jan: I would cut the stalks off if they are dead to the ground. You should be getting new sprouts by now, and if you aren't, the plants might just be dead. I wouldn't pull them just in case they're still attached, because you could damage the roots.

I'm a fan of mulching for water conservation and weed prevention, but it depends on your climate. I'm told that in some humid climates, mulching in the summer can lead to drainage problems. You might want to visit a local nursery and ask someone what they recommend.

-- Beth (, April 10, 2000.

Well, over the past couple weeks I've done just about exactly that. I hacked away at the dead stuff until I had two garbage cans full of yard waste. Stuff that still looked alive, I cut off about an inch or two above the highest live growth, and stuff that looked dead got hacked all the way to the ground.

I also got TOTALLY motivated (thanks to this journal in no small part) and went to the nursery, bought four english ivy plants, two columbines, two bellflowers, two primroses, and a daylily. They're surviving quite nicely in the front yard, although the columbines' leaves are turning a weird shade of purple. I think that might be normal, though.

-- Jan (bookworm, April 10, 2000.

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