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Cut & Come Again: Shearing Perennials

When the buzz of bees and heady scent of newly blooming flowers has faded, it can certainly feel like a let-down. But the timely shearing of some common perennials can rejuvenate your gardens for a second flush of growth and blooms to extend the beauty!

Nepeta, Catmint

A staple of the cottage-style garden, Nepeta catmint is a great clump-forming perennial that has a sprawling habit. After its early summer bloom, it can be sheared to the ground to set it up to grow and bloom again. This also can help control its sprawling, floppy habit into a neater mound.

Without shearing, you can see the floppy, loose habit loses what structure it had by the middle of July.


When salvia is standing tall and flush with purple, pink, or white flowers, it is truly a sight to behold. Its individual spires can bloom for a week or more, starting at the base and working upwards along the stem, often covered with bees and butterflies. Its foliage has a heady scent that deters deer and rabbits from munching it, but when it's done blooming, it can have an untidy and crowded appearance. Rejuvenating it by shearing it to the ground not only cleans up its flopping foliage, but it also promotes a second flush of blooms! Pollinators rejoice!

Other Potential Candidates

Other candidates for shearing include Tradescantia (Spiderwort or Asiatic Dayflower), some Geranium varieties, and Columbine. As a seedy annual, Columbine can be very helpful to shear back to the ground to control its spread as well as to keep its foliage neat and tidy.

Where did my flowers go?

As we work through your gardens, it can be startling to have perennials that are currently in bloom cut down. We do this because we cannot guarantee that we would return in time to shear them after they’ve fully bloomed and their flowerheads are spent with sufficient time for them the rebloom again. In these cases, we choose to cut back perennials that are more than halfway through their bloom in order to set them up for another round of beauty.