Tag Archives: Tracy DiSabato-Aust

“Prune in June” – Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’

I am keeping it simple today with the next installment of “Prune in June”, as we’ll take a look at Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’

Pretty nice, eh?

Please notice we are talking ‘Autumn Fire’ and not the more common ‘Autumn Joy’. After years of struggling with AJ and its tendency to sprawl when in bloom, I made the move to ‘Autumn Fire’:

To date, AF has performed up to its reputation as a better “upright” sedum than AJ. The foliage remains tighter  and seems to be a bit more robust than AJ. Of course, my AF are still relatively young so the jury may still be out.

Which brings me to current day. While Tracy DiSabato-Aust discusses how to pinch/prune ‘Autumn Joy’ in “The Well Tended Perennial Garden”, I figured I would apply that same reasoning to my ‘Autumn Fire’. Pinching, rather than cutting back, seems to be the preferred option so count me in on that choice.

Here is an AF before pinching:

And here is the same plant “post pinch”:

I have two others I decided not to touch for now (or maybe I will pinch one at a later date):

I would expect the pinched AF to produce more blooms but at a smaller size, and would also expect a more compact plant. We’ll see.

This is damn fun isn’t it?


“Prune in June” – Helenium (Sneezeweed)

Well hello there, and welcome to part three of my beyond riveting “Prune in June” series. Prepare yourself for some more hardcore pruning experimentation. Good times.

Previously, we covered Boltonia (False aster) and Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed) and today, we will take a look at Helenium autumnale, also known as Sneezeweed: 

I love this native perennial as it has bloomed profusely for me for years at the end of summer and into early fall. BUT (and this is a big but) they almost always topple over once they are in full bloom, which makes them a bit difficult to truly enjoy:

I’ve known for years that these plants need to be cut back or pruned throughout the growing season to attempt to control the height and ultimately prevent them from falling over. Tracy DiSabato-Aust told me so, but for reasons unknown, I’ve never heeded that advice.

Because I’m dumb.

But no more my friends.

Here’s what one of my sneezeweed plants looked like pre-haircut:

And here is the same plant cut down by half:

Ms. DiSabato-Aust suggests cutting back sneezeweed by a 1/2 to 2/3 in mid-June so I did just that.

Other options are to cut the plants back to 12 inches in mid-July which results in plants half their normal size and a delay in bloom of about six weeks. I’m considering this option on another sneezeweed plant so more to come on that.

Also, plants that were previously pruned for height control can have 4 to 6 inches cut off the tips when in bud to delay flowering by a week or two. I’ll have to think about doing this as well but most likely, I’ll chicken out … we’ll see.

For contrasting purposes, here is another sneezeweed that was “deer pruned” a few weeks ago so I am going to leave it as is to see if the more drastic pruning provides better results. Those deer are just so great with all their helpful pruning:

And just because I am a good guy and want nothing more than to educate you, here is an unpruned plant that will remain unpruned. It does get some support from surrounding plants but most likely, it will fall as it usually does. But that’s OK, I am willing to sacrifice for the greater good:

So there you have it, another pruning adventure out in my garden. I am sure you are all dying to see the results and I will give you those results along the way.

Because I care about my readers.


“Prune in June” – Joe Pye Weed

When someone tells me “Leave well enough alone”, you know what I say?

How about I DON’T leave it alone and make it even … weller.

Or … more well.

Or … you get the point.

Which brings me to the next entry in my “Prune in June” series; Eupatorium ‘Gateway’, more commonly known as Joe Pye Weed.

This statuesque perennial (close to six feet tall) has been a solid performer for me for years now, so why would I want to mess with a good thing?:

Because, well, why not?

Let’s play around a bit and have fun with it. It’s an opportunity to get the hands dirty, experiment, observe and learn a thing or two. All good things last time I checked.

Here is what my Joe Pye Weed (JPW) collection currently looks like:  

And here is a close up shot of a “growing tip” on one of the branches. These are easy to identify as a sort of “swirl” in the middle of the surrounding leaves:  

Tracy DiSibato-Aust (“T’Aust” as I’ll refer to her going forward), who I discussed in my prior post, recommends pinching this new growth in mid June (other wise known as “now”) which causes “5 breaks to emerge from the stem” and ultimately creates a fuller plant.

Well, I did just what my lady said:    

In fact, I pinched all of the stems along the front of the JPW plants. My hope is to create a layered effect where those pinched stems bloom a little smaller on stems a little shorter than those in the back that were left unpinched:

Here are said unpinched stems:

And here is the same shot as above but with the stems in front now pinched:

As I stated in my last post, I’ll continue to track the developments as these plants continue to adjust and grow throughout the summer.

And you know you’ll be waiting to see these results with bated breath.

Because I am here to both educate and entertain.


“Prune in June” series – Boltonia

I’ll never forget the day back in 2001, when the following book arrived in the mail:

And this is no exaggeration … it completely changed my entire outlook on gardening. Within minutes of opening and reading this book, I discovered that working with plants was a true art form.

“The Well Tended Perennial Garden” by Tracy DiSabato-Aust is beyond a “must” for all gardeners/plant lovers (take a peak to the right in the sidebar and you can order a copy pretty cheap through Amazon). I re-read every word of this gem each and every year and have the intention of faithfully following all of the pruning/pinching/deadheading/deadleafing advice. Yet, I never fulfill that promise …

By now, I just about have this book memorized and shame on me for not taking advantage of that knowledge. As the spring progresses into summer, I get lazy and complacent and by the time mid summer rolls around, it’s too late to do anything about it. But not any more my friends.

I’m creating my own pruning series here at ONG titled “Prune in June”. That title comes from the fact that a majority of the pruning tasks recommended by Tracy should occur in June. Plus, who can resist a catchy title that rhymes? Sweet.

This is the year I stay on top of the pruning tasks and capture the results of what I’ve done in June and how it  will hopefully, positively impact the growing results of these plants in August, September and beyond.

To kick things off, I am starting with my Boltonia ‘Pink Beauty’ plants:

They have some fantastic late summer blooms:                

But without fail, fall over once they are in full bloom:

As my garden has matured over the years, these perennials do get some support from neighboring shrubs/grasses, but there is clearly room for improvement:

So let’s be friggin proactive this year.

Tracy suggests cutting back Boltonia by a 1/2 to 2/3 in early June. I’ll split the difference and document the results as the season progresses.

Here is what they look like as of today:

And how they look now, post haircut:

As mentioned before, I will closely monitor the results as we get deeper into the summer and will be sure to share those results, good or bad, with you all.

Coming soon … Joe Pye Weed.