sandyslopes

Aruncus dioicus (Goat's Beard) Fall cleanup?

Do you cut down your Aruncus in Fall or wait until Spring? I've been waiting, but it looks like a big mess when the snow melts, so I'd like to get it cleaned up now. .... But one time I cut just one of them down, and it didn't come back!


I cut it down to about 6-8", and may have cut it too far into winter instead of fall, but I seem to remember the stem being hollow? This was a few years ago, so I'm not sure if I'm remembering the details right. But I thought rain and snow may have rotted it. ..........What's your experience with Aruncus and fall cleanup?

Comments (12)

  • peren.all Zone 5a Ontario Canada
    8 months ago

    I always cut mine back to a couple of inches from the ground once it has gone completely dormant. The foliage turns brown and the stems darken and start to wither a bit. I have been doing it this way for almost 20 yrs. on the same plant. I am sure I did it from the time it was first planted. Sometimes if a plant is first year I will leave it alone the first fall.

    sandyslopes z5b n. UT thanked peren.all Zone 5a Ontario Canada
  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    8 months ago

    personally.. i always considered a plants detritus to be a self mulching effect ... why in the world .... i got it in my head.. to cut it all off.. and then pile ground up leaves on everything .. eventually led to me figuring out.... i seemed to be going against ma nature ... though there was no downside to the mulch ...


    but if you have consistent snow cover all winter.. there are no odds of winter sun thawing bare soil repeatedly all winter ... get them dormant.. keep them dormant.. and act to insure such ... in our cold areas ...


    anyway ... do whatever you want.. it probably doesnt matter ... and the plant should probably still not be considered babe ...and the old event may not be related to whatever you did ...


    if you do pile mulch on top of a plant.. you should leave the crown clear ... you mulch around the plant... and right up to the crown... but dont bury it ...


    ken



    sandyslopes z5b n. UT thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada
    8 months ago
    last modified: 8 months ago

    This looks like a good article on it. They say to cut it down to a few inches in fall.

    Goatsbeard, Aruncus dioicus

    I bought one in 2019. I didn't cut it down in fall, but just left it as is. I did mulch. It made it through the winter and the terrible late frost we had this spring. I think it is a nice plant and goes well with hosta.

    I had wanted to purchase it a few years ago. I heard slugs like this plant. When I went to a nursery and found the plants, I picked the pots up to inspect and found slugs on the bottom! Hence, I didn't buy it and changed my mind! Then last year I found it again at a good price and took a chance on it. So far I haven't had a slug problem with it. Every time I look at it, I have to say "you're so cute!"

    sandyslopes z5b n. UT thanked newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada
  • pennlake
    8 months ago

    I don't think it really matters if you cut it down fall or spring. I'm a leave everything up until spring gardener then knock down whatever wasn't crushed by the snow and leave it. A lot less work. Mine have seeded around so cutting it down in fall may prevent that.


    Also, this plant does exceptionally well for me in dry, sandy soil in shade.

    sandyslopes z5b n. UT thanked pennlake
  • Marie Tulin
    8 months ago

    With some plants, particularly Hosta, I've found I can pull the dead leaves by hand very easily in spring, or simply rake them off. For me, it is harder on my back and hands to clip them in the fall.

    Grasses I cut with the lawn mower in Spring. They are lovely in the snow for until mid winter.

    Your question leads me think about epimedium. Those are a problem.

    sandyslopes z5b n. UT thanked Marie Tulin
  • peren.all Zone 5a Ontario Canada
    8 months ago

    newhostalady your little cutie looks more like Aruncus aethusifolius, the dwarf goat'sbeard or possibly one like A. 'Horatio'. I adore them all.

    sandyslopes z5b n. UT thanked peren.all Zone 5a Ontario Canada
  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada
    8 months ago

    Peren.all, so I just had to find my original label and see what kind of Goat's Beard I have. And you are correct! I have a dwarf Goat's Beard, Aruncus aethusifolius! You know your plants!

    sandyslopes z5b n. UT thanked newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada
  • peren.all Zone 5a Ontario Canada
    8 months ago

    newhostalady now you will need to get A. dioicus! I just did not want you to be thinking "Why is this plant not growing to 5' tall lol! A. aethusifolius does go beautifully with Hosta. That wonderful ferny foliage is a great contrast and a fairly long flowering period too. I would grow it for the foliage alone!

    sandyslopes z5b n. UT thanked peren.all Zone 5a Ontario Canada
  • newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada
    8 months ago

    Your aruncus plants are beautiful sandyslopes! I can see why you were asking about cutting them back. I too am trying to do better and like to do as much as I can in the fall. Even then, spring is my most favorite season, but a busy one!

    sandyslopes z5b n. UT thanked newhostalady Z6 ON, Canada
  • snow (4/5)
    7 months ago

    I love your display of goatsbeard! mine have been slow to establish but I'm working on it... so far I've had 4 varieties survive, 2 dwarfs, one native, and one sort of fern leaf variety.

    I leave my perennials up all winter these days with one idea being the birds might enjoy the seeds. I have a goal to do more observation this year so I know which plants and which birds 'go together' although I'm a lazy birdwatcher. I also enjoy the aesthetics of the flower seedheads myself.

    sandyslopes z5b n. UT thanked snow (4/5)
  • sandyslopes z5b n. UT
    Original Author
    7 months ago

    Thanks nhl and snow! The Aruncus do make a lot of seedlings that I've placed around the yard, and they do take a few years to get big, but they're worth the wait.


    I like watching the winter birds. Luckily, I live in an area that's still got enough wilderness around us so there is food and shelter even if I do some cleanup in my yard. I can't say I'm enjoying how they look, but so far I've left the echinaceas and rudbeckia seed heads and anything still flowering for the bees and other pollinators that are still hanging in there. But it's really cooling down at night now.