Time to give perennials a haircut
Spring is upon us and it is time to grab the secateurs and cut out last year's dead growth on perennials to make way for fresh new stems.
Keeping dead foliage protects perennials from frost damage and in with many plants like Hylotelephiums (sedums) the seed heads provide lovely structure over winter. The dead stalks on Hylotelephiums will mostly easily pull off if given a quick tug. It was wonderful to see hibernating lady birds emerge from the mass of new shoots.
Although frosts are not over most hardy perennials will be fine being tidied up now. Dead foliage, like that on Erigeron karvinskianus or Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' can be bunched with one hand and snipped off with the other.
There are a few exceptions though, like Gaura lindheimeri (now called Oenothera lindheimeri) which is really only half hardy and still needs the tangled mass of dead foliage as protection until the frosts are over. Gaura are also deceptive fellas and rather dead looking stems may yet spring back into life as the weather warms up.