Central Texas Winter Cut Back
A little work in mid to late winter will result in a more beautiful and healthy landscape for the rest of the year. In central Texas, it is preferable to do this in January or early February.
As a quick reminder, perennials are any plant that lives longer than two years. Examples of central Texas perennials include: Lantanas, Salvias, Turks Cap, Bird of Paradise, etc. Many perennials should also be cut back aggressively –to the ground. See pictures. Each cut back is dependent on plants’ specific micro-climate – meaning two lantanas could be treated differently. One could be protected from the wind and remains healthy all season, while another is exposed to the elements and dies back to the ground. Cut back the dead, woody parts. Even if the plant hasn’t died completely back (this happened to one of my lantanas this year), we would still recommend cutting it back close to the ground – it will result in a healthier and more beautiful plant the following year. A failure to cut back perennials will result in “leggy” plants with less blooms.
Roses should be cut back dramatically before Valentine’s Day (what a convenient way to remember it). Remember that blooming only occurs on new growth. This is why people will often prune their rose shrubs, proper pruning will result in a double stem and double the blooms. If no annual cutback on pruning is completed then there will only be blooming on the top / new growth. So be aggressive on the cut back! The temptation is to under do it but the result is less blooms and a larger shrub. We often see over grown roses that are the result of years of under-pruning. In the picture on the right (taken at our office) you can see the very short stick-looking things in the fore-ground. These are roses cut back. The roses in the back are pre-cut back. As you can see it is aggressive and a bit scary at first to cut them back this far, but it is the right thing to do!
Decorative grasses, not to include bi-colored iris or liriope, are the big, beautiful grasses that need a large and aggressive cut back. Without the right equipment this can be quite the chore. You want to cut these back to about 8 inches from the ground, otherwise the old, dead stalks will prohibit new growth and generally detract from the beauty of the grass the following season– cut it all back! It feels a little weird to chop 90% of the plant back, but you need to do it.
Side note: Crape Myrtle season is coming. We generally trim Crape Myrtles in February. More on this to come!
I got a lot of my info from my friends here at Top Choice but some of my thinking comes from this wonderful website: http://www.texasgardener.com/pastissues/janfeb08/Cleanup.html