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Should You Pull Dead Annual Flowers in the Fall?

Are dead flowers in your garden stressing you out? It may be time to pull them out and prep your mulch bed for winter. Here’s a quick guide explaining when to remove dead annuals in your garden.

Difference between Annuals and Perennial Flowers

It’s important to note the difference between annuals and perennials. Annuals have a linear growth pattern – seed, bloom, die. Once they complete that lifecycle, they do not regrow. Thus you can remove them once they die off.

Perennials can go dormant and bloom again the following spring. If your garden is filled with perennials, don’t remove them when they die. Keep the root systems in place to enjoy new growth next year.

Cut back Perennials – Remove Annuals

The general rule is to prune perennials and pull dead annuals. Timing for perennial pruning varies by plant and location. Most perennials can be pruned in the fall after their last bloom cycle is complete. You can either deadhead the flowers or cut the entire plant back 3-5 inches above the soil line. The goal is to remove excess plant material to fuel new growth in the spring.

Remove annual flowers once they’ve finished flowering. Pull the entire plant up, including the roots. You can add this to your compost pile. Fill in the hole left behind and start planning next year’s garden.

Why You May Not Want to Remove Dead Annuals

Some gardeners prefer leaving their annuals in place so birds and garden critters have something to munch on. This may attract negative pests though, so proceed with caution. Also keep in mind that if the plant is diseased, it can contaminate your garden in the spring.

Some annuals self-sow, which means that they shed seeds to grow next year. You can leave the stalks of those plants on the ground where you want them to grow next year, but you won’t have the satisfaction of an instant garden. You may prefer a clean garden bed with fresh nursery-grown annuals in the spring.

When Is the Best Time to Pull Dead Annual Flowers?

Once again, timing varies by plant and location. At Berns Landscaping, we often do seasonal floral swaps to transition between spring, summer, and fall colors. In this case, the dead annuals are pulled when they have finished their lifecycle.

For a broader timeframe, plan to pull all dead annuals after the first winter frost.

When Is the Best Time to Plant New Annuals?

If you’re using seeds, plant your annuals in the early spring, right after the last winter frost. Wait until late spring if you’re using potted plants. You can plant annual flowers throughout the growing season, so you may plan for multiple planting sessions in the year.

Let Our Horticulturists Do the Work for You

Berns Landscaping has seasoned horticulturists on staff. We can create a unique garden care plan for your annuals, perennials, and more. Contact us at(586) 756-1145 to schedule a consultation for year-long garden maintenance.