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October Herbaceous Border Tips


Once your shrub and hybrid tea roses have finally finished flowering for the year you can begin a rigorous year end pruning.  Cut out all but the 2 or 3 strongest younger stems and cut these back to around 12-24 inches (depending on the variety) in height ensuring that there are 3 or 4 nodes on each stem which will produce next year’s new shoots.  Cut out any rogue shoots from below the graft if you find them.

Protecting Lily Bulbs

The old dead stems can be pulled out and the pots dried down for the Winter.  It is often best to depot your lily bulbs and store them in newspaper in a frost free environment until Spring.  This enables you to split off any small bulbous offshoots for growing on and to start the main bulb with fresh compost and a larger pot next year.
dead lily stemsclick for larger image
removing lily stems 1click for larger image
removing lily stems 2click for larger image
removing lily stems 3click for larger image
removing lily stems 4click for larger image


Some of your herbaceous plants will have already produced a carpet of seedlings around them.  It may be sensible to lift and pot some of these to over-winter safely in the greenhouse or give away to friends.  Often you will have more than you know what to do with and will end up composting them.
Potting up small seedlings 1click for larger image
Potting up small seedlings 2click for larger image
Potting up small seedlings 3click for larger image
Potting up small seedlings 4click for larger image
Potting up small seedlings 5click for larger image


Echinop flowers can be cut and dried off now in a garage or shed. The tall thistle stems make excellent sprayed Christmas decorations.


Dierama The flowers on these attractive Angel’s Fishing Rods will be long gone but the seed pods will be full of round black seeds.   Remember to collect them for sourcing next spring.   They germinate easily but this plant is one of the first to succumb to a cold winter.


Aster These will flower long into autumn.   While they still do they will attract and sustain Peacock butterflies on warmer days before they hibernate.   Do not cut them down too quickly!

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