Hostas and other perennials - do you let them die back, or cut them down?


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Usually I just let them die down naturally and come back whenever they feel like it in spring but because of a very rainy summer, the slugs were out of control this year, the hostas were covered with slug holes, so I've been cutting them back because they just didn't look attractive. I also cut back most of my ferns a couple of weeks ago and am planning another "cut-back attack" on my perennials over the next few days, as winter weather is moving in.

I've read arguments both pro and con for cutting back perennials after the blooming/growing season, and mostly just leaving them be has worked for me.

Just wondering what other people do, and why. :)
 
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We don't have severe winter weather, but I do cut back our perennials. I find that it here makes for better growth in the spring because the old growth can harbor diseases and insects.
Perennials that are evergreen, like rosemary or salvia gregii, I do leave alone. The roses I do on a "does it need it or not" basis. Some of our roses get pretty tall, and I like to cut them back in February, but that is more like pruning than cutting back.
 
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Since it takes most of the winter to get round all our plants we tend to begin now and continue, weather permitting until they are all cut back. Left to their own devices, some of ours rot away. Others like the protection given by the old leaves. You need to know your plants, which to cut and which to leave.
All our Hostas have died back to slime now, so that has been clear away.
 
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I let them die back naturally. some of them will become a winter interest with snow laying on them. Come March I will start raking out those areas to make it all clean and ready for the spring flowers. Last winter all my astilbes remained upright, so the left over flowers I sprayed them a light coating of red paint, it was pretty against the white snow.
 
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I cut back most of my perennials, the hostas I just let die back by spring they have just about made compost in the flower bed. I trim back leggy rose right after the last frost around mid May.
 
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Well I do have one large hosta out front that is a stunning fall yellow right now; too pretty to cut back! So far I only cut back the ones directly along the front of the house because they looked so raggedy and full of holes by fall, and I got tired of seeing them every day.

I don't do it every year, but in the next couple of weeks I will cut back most of the perennials, then apply a layer of compost, topped off with more bark mulch.
 
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yes, several of my hostas are turning that beautiful yellow color. and I heard the birds can eat the seeds on them. so I let it all alone. As my property has tons of leaves in general in the lawn area, my energy focus is on raking the leaves off the lawn etc. The gardensssss raking out is usually left till February or March, then all of it is raked at once.
 
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I let them die every year or at least I used to. I did that because it was much easier than doing anything else, and given my health issues, well, the easiest the better. Some days all I feel like doing is staying in bed,
 
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One should clarify things a little. I only remove the dead top growth, not anything still green. That is left to die back to the plant.
The only green material we remove is the no longer needed Hellebore hybrid leaves and that is done in February.
 
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Thanks all. It's a few days past its prime but I just took this photo of my pretty yellow hosta. As you can see I have plenty more raking yet to do...but it's raining now.
hosta.jpg
 
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I usually let everything die naturally and then I will trim anything left when Spring is getting close. I will trim any dead leaves still hanging on and shape anything that needs a little bit of uniformity. That way when Spring gets going, everything is ready.
 
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I also just remove the dead vegetation as it dies off. Cannas will pop out very easily once dead. Just a slight tug and they separate from the rhizome. A lot of my palms stay green through the winter, I really just have the Canna and some stargazer lilies
 
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Some yard customers have me cut the perennials down in the Autumn.
Some yard customers have me cut the previous year's growth in the Spring.
Some yard customers have me cut some perennials in the Autumn and wait until the Spring to take care of the rest of the old perennial growth.
 
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When cutting back in the fall I never cut any plants back if it has seeds the the birds will eat over the winter.
For the large hosta's I tried for one winter to leave those seeds alone, birds don't like them, so they are cut off. the medium or smaller hosta's seem to be on the birds menu.
 
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