Perennial Flower Power

Summer is almost here and our perennials are blooming, attracting butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Perennials bring beauty to our gardens for years at a time. All they ask for in return is proper care! Part of that care is cutting them back minimally once a year. This process rids perennials of their old foliage to make room for new growth and flowers and will keep pollinators happy all summer long.

Removing spent blooms will keep your plants reblooming faster and heavier. Depending on your goal and the condition of the plant, the two types of pruning are heading and thinning.


Heading promotes new blooms and a fuller appearance. Pinching or cutting off dead and spent flowers and foliage gets rid of the unsightly growth while forcing the production of new stems, leaves, and flowers. For some plants, new flowers will not grow until spent flowers are removed. When the plant has multiple buds growing along the stems, cut just below spent flowers to create blooms further down the stems. If the plant has stems with singular flowers, you can cut the stem to the base of the plant. Heading annuals and perennials will produce more flowers that bloom for a longer period of time, and for perennials, this carries over to the next growing season.


Thinning greatly improves appearance and flower size, and helps prevent disease. Shape and reduce the size of overgrown and bulky plants by cutting unwanted stems to the base of the plant or where stems meet. Typically, it is good to remove up to one-third of the stems, especially in overcrowded areas where the foliage is beginning to discolor or die. If the plant is simply invading the space of surrounding plants in a bed, just cut outside stems to keep the plant in its place.