Fall is officially upon us and with it the fall maintenance period in preparation for winter. Among the many plants in your garden there are sure to be perennials. Perennials are plants that have a lifespan of more than one blooming season, usually two to three, but even these vary in the degree and type of maintenance that should be given to them as well as when they should be pruned. Some plants are best pruned in the spring, while others in the fall. There is no set rule as to what time period they should be pruned in and for the most part the use of observation and common sense come into play.
Leafy plants like columbine (Aquilegia) or bee balm (Monarda) are best pruned in the fall in order to avoid having to fight with the dead foliage in the spring as new plant life starts to grow. Plants like Echniacea and Blackeyed Susans can be trimmed in the spring instead.
There are some who would disagree in the pruning of perennials for the winter at all. Their argument is that they provide shelter for organisms that are useful to the garden and give nourishment to the soil in the form of compost. While these are valid facts to considered when going about the care of your garden, some plants are more prone to harbouring diseases and pests if left without pruning than others. These can then surface in the spring and cause more damage in the next growing season. In these cases deadheading, cutting away all the foliage and disposing of it, is the best course of action. As mentioned previously though, there is a mixed consensus on the subject. If you are still uncertain, contact a professional.