Spring cleanup tips

It’s been a very slow spring in Northern Colorado, but luckily that gives us plenty of time to get in and clean up the garden.  I’ve been waiting on many of the plants (especially the woodies) to see what’s really dead, and what’s just a little slow to leaf out. In hopes that warm weather is just around the corner, I spent last Saturday pruning and cutting back a few more things.

Here are two plants that should be worked on now (if you haven’t done it already!):

Silverheels horehound (Marrubium rotundifolium) is just going to flower in my garden. Since the flowers are insignificant and tend to rob energy from the plant itself, I get in and cut the flower stalks back just as soon as I can get good access to them. Wait until the stalks have elongated enough to be able to cut them all back down to the lower mat of foliage. I usually use gardening scissors for this job because the stems are so soft. 

Silverheels horehound sending up bloom stalks

Silverheels horehound with new bloom stalks.

Get yourself in a comfortable position (usually sitting on the ground) and consider this task a sort of meditation of the garden… it’s a bit tedious, but thoroughly rewarding later. There will be a “base” of tight, older foliage, topped by fast-growing, vigorous flowering stalks. I usually grab a handful at a time, and cut them back all the way to the base foliage. It reminds me of cutting hair – when you sort of thin small sections of bangs or very thick hair.Cut the new shoots back all the way to the base mat of leaves.
Cut the flowering shoots all the way back to the base mat of foliage.

Cut the flowering shoots all the way back to the base mat of foliage.

 The plant will look a little bedraggled for a couple of weeks, but all the new growth that emerges next will create a lush, full new mat of beautiful foliage.

Looking a little weak after pruning, but soon will be lush and full.

 Mohave sage (Salvia pachyphylla) is the other plant I worked on last weekend. I have about 10 of them in various locations, but this is the oldest one . All of my plants had various degrees of die-back on the tips, but I wanted to wait until I knew for sure where the new growth was going to push from.
Mohave sage with tip die-back - before pruning.

Mohave sage with tip die-back - before pruning.

 Look carefully at the plant as a whole to decide the ultimate shape you’re going for once pruning is complete. I chose to round this plant evenly and cut back each stem to live shoots. 
Mohave sage after pruning.

Mohave sage after pruning.

Hopefully we’ll have some nice warm weather and the new growth will quckly fill out and be lush and full in time for the butterflies’ arrival.
Mohave sage with two-tailed swallowtail butterflies.

Mohave sage with two-tailed swallowtail butterflies.

 
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