As autumn starts to nip and the final flowers fade, it can be tempting cut back the dead growth of perennial plants in borders and ‘put the garden to bed’. Of course, dead growth overhanging paths or obscuring winter plants like snowdrops should be removed, but there are multiple upsides of leaving on those dead stems over winter:
- Many common plants have seed heads packed with winter food for garden birds
- Dead top-growth can help protect the crown of perennial plants while they are dormant
- Plant stems and leaves can be a good winter habitat for insects such as aphid-chomping ladybirds and lacewings
- Dead stems look fantastic on a winter’s morning dusted with frost
So resist the urge to be too tidy too soon and enjoy those plant stems a little longer. The arrival of spring is a better time to do the cut back - around March is good.