|Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne' pinched|
The Daily DuBrule
Every June I do a garden walk at Natureworks that demonstrates pinching back perennials to double the bloom period. This is based on techniques I learned from the book The Well Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy Disabato-Aust. I remember when I first read and understood what she was talking about. I was SO excited. This was cutting edge territory for me, something that I knew would change the way I tend gardens.
Basically, you cut the front half of the plant in half. Timing is important. For late season bloomers like the Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne' above, early June is best. For fall bloomers like asters and Helianthus, it should be done by the end of June. This technique accomplishes two things. First, and most important, the part that you pinch blooms about 3 weeks later. As the back half finishes blooming, the front half starts. Thus you double the bloom period for the plant. How cool is that! Second, you layer the plant so it steps up from front to back. This makes the garden look really nice.
|Eupatorium 'Little Joe' perfectly pinched|
Try this with bee balm. Do it in May, not June. When the back half is finished flowering (and most likely has powdery mildew), cut it down to the ground. The front half will start to flower and you will get to enjoy your bee balm for another 3-4 week.
Thank you, Tracy Di-Sabato Aust, for writing your excellent book and teaching me this trick. It really makes a huge difference in my gardens.