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Grooming-Keep your garden plants in tip top shape

Grooming-Keep your garden plants in tip top shape

After they are established, most perennials don't need a lot of maintenance, but you do need to groom and primp here and there to keep the garden looking great. The best policy to keep things manageable is to walk through the garden once or twice a week with a bucket and pair of pruners in hand so you can pull stray weeds as you see them, or remove flowers that have faded that week. A few other chores such as mulching, and cutting back perennials take a little more time, and may require a few hours on a Saturday morning.
While most perennials don't need to be staked, sometimes it can't be avoided. If you garden in areas with heavy summer rain, or gusty wind, you will probably have to stake some plants. Tall growing perennials with big flowers sometimes need support.
Cutting back and deadheading
Cutting plants back is a useful technique that can:
•keep leggy plants from getting too tall
•promote new leaf growth
•encourage plants to bloom again
Sometimes you can avoid staking taller plants such as big asters and tall sunflowers if you cut them back by about half in early summer. This keeps plants shorter than normal, and encourages denser growth. Other plants, such as spring blooming dianthus, and creeping phlox should be cut back by one-half after they bloom to keep them from opening up in the center, or getting thin.
Deadheading is a menacing term for removing old flowers. Many plants will bloom again if old flowers are removed before they set seed. There are two ways to make deadhead cuts, and the method depends on how the flowers grow.
Perennials that have leaves along the flower stem, such as tall phlox and bee balm, should be cut just above the point where you see a new bud or shoot emerging. This is usually in the axil of the set of leaves closest to the old flower. With flowers that don't have leaves along the stem, such as Hosta, Heuchera, Hellebore, and Pulmonaria, make the cut at the base of the flower stem near the ground.
When it comes to Daylilies, it's a good idea to remove the individual blooms after they fade. This helps divert energy from forming seed pods, and re-channel it into producing more flower buds. Once an entire bloom spike is finished flowering, you can then cut the flower stem off near the base of the plant.

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