You might hear over the garden fence that it’s time for fall cleanup. While it is time to cut back and throw out any diseased foliage or signs of fungus, most perennials can be left alone. So why not take it easy this fall and enjoy the benefits?
But make sure you don’t compost foliage with fungus.
Birds will feast on the seeds of perennials and annuals left for winter. As some species migrate south, they will stock up to make the trip. Other types of birds migrate to the Chicago area to overwinter, and look for seeds and berries for their stay.
Some species of butterflies and moths form chrysalises over the winter and emerge in spring. Leaf litter can often be their favorite habitat.
Our winters can seem endless. Leaving the structures of perennials, shrubs and trees give us something interesting to look at through the snowy months. You also can cut them for indoor arrangements.
Several plants survive better if their stems are left alone. Butterfly bush, asters, foxglove and mums in particular benefit from foliage left over the winter to insulate the crown of the plants. Some plants such as Russian sage, caryopteris and fallopia will die if cut back in fall.
Garden Tip is courtesy of Heather Prince, The Growing Place, 630-355-4000, www.thegrowingplace.com.