How should I prepare my perennial beds for winter?

FAQ
Question: 

How should I prepare my perennial beds for winter?

Answer: 

Perennial plants can be cut back in fall after the foliage has been destroyed by a hard freeze.  Compost the plant debris.  Most established perennials (those in the ground 1 or more years) do not require winter protection.  However, a few perennials, such as garden mums, can be damaged in winter and should be mulched in fall to prevent injury.  Perennials planted in late summer/early fall should also be mulched.  Good mulching materials are clean, weed-free straw, pine needles, and chopped cornstalks.  A 6- to 8-inch-layer should be adequate for most perennials.  Mid- to late November is usually a good time to mulch perennial beds in Iowa.  

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