Let me begin by saying that I am a professional landscaper, owner of The Landshaper which has been in business since 1986. We have clients that we have maintained continually for over 15 years. Our properties are some of the best maintained home in upper scaled neighborhoods like “Emerald Forest and The Sontera’s. I have studied under master gardeners and work in the field every day. I do not make a living by writing articles or just designing plans for someone else to follow. We do all aspects of landscape and maintenance.  So I have learned what works and what does not. That being said, the article “Wait a bit to prune browned perennials” published in the San Antonio express news on January 12, 2014 is a bit misleading. I would like to try to simplify what should be pruned and when in San Antonio, TX.

First of all, pruning of any plant is done for two basic reasons.

 1.  Aesthetics, dead heading to promote flowering or to control growth.

 2. To remove dead, diseased or damaged foliage.

Perennials have a life cycle like all living things, when they freeze back the plant will continue to spend energy trying to save damaged foliage. In most cases, it is better to prune back the dead foliage to allow the root system to conserve energy and apply it to the root structure this will produce more vigor in your  perennials in the spring. Some perennials send out growth early in the spring and do not like contending with old foliage. Other perennials do not like wet feet and if left un-pruned till spring, dead foliage will lie on the ground and collect to much moisture and cause root rot.

There are however some perennials that should be pruned in the early spring. These plants usually do not freeze back all the way and as the article stated, pruning these perennials in the fall could damage new or live foliage. The basic rule is, if the plant has died back to the ground, cut it down.

I have put together a list of plants that are most common to San Antonio. This is by no means a complete list, just the basics to guide you. Keep in mind, sometimes it’s just easier to pay a professional like The Landshaper and have a worry free landscape but if you are ambitious and enjoy gardening, this article may help clear things up for you.

Perennial plants to prune in spring

 Bleeding heart, Butterfly bush, coral bells, Dianthus, Foxglove, Ginger, Hosta, Lamb’s ear, Lavender, Mums, Oriental Poppy, Plumbago, Purple Coneflower, Red-Hot Poker, Russian Sage   

Perennial plants to prune in fall

Bearded Iris, Beebalm, Lilies, Bergonia, Blanket Flower, Catmint, Columbine, False Indigo,  Goldenstar, Clematis, Daisies, Helianthus (sunflower), Hollyhock,  Lantana, Ligularia, Lilyleaf Ladybell, Mexican Petunia, Peony, Phlox, Salvia, Yarrow

You may find more help from other qualified professionals at the following links:

Questions or comments may be submitted to :  or 210-449-1375.

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Happy Gardening,Jerald Crawford