Garden care comes with a variety of techniques, methods and tricks of the trade. One must-do item for any thriving garden — deadheading flowers. This task requires a bit of attention, but with the right approach, you’ll find this step can be woven well into your garden routine. We walk you through all the important reasons for deadheading and how to best execute it (no pun intended).
Dive into deadheading flowers
If this term ‘deadheading flowers’ is new for you, don’t worry. It simply means to remove spent flowers. Any flowering feature that has lost its lustre and is looking tired, simply clip it off. Our team created a guide on this very process, as well as a video tutorial just for your needs!
We now delve into more of the in-depth reasoning behind it, so you get a full appreciation for this dutiful gardening job.
The science behind the snipping
So, we established what deadheading is, but the reason for it? Well, there are actually many. Firstly, it gives your plant a tidier look. A raggedy plant drags the presentation of a garden down. This process simply makes it more clean, crisp and dare we say — charming. Secondly, it controls how plant seeds spread. Lastly (and most importantly), it gives your plant a controlled shape, directing it to grow thicker and fuller.
Like any living thing — a plant’s goal is to propagate. Once a plant has produced a round of successfully pollinated flowers, it redirects its resources to developing seeds carrying important genetic information to ensure the survival of its species.
While some flowers do well to get deadheaded, others do not require it as much.
Don’t need a deadheading
Peony, liatris and most bulbs will only produce one round of flowers per season. Most flowering vines, periwinkle and impatiens do not need deadheading.
Deadhead these flowers
For plants like petunias and roses, they stop blooming in early summer. This is when it’s time to deadhead to re-invigorate your plant for it to flower again. The annuals and perennials that do benefit from deadheading will rebloom with full flowers all season long. These include:
- Bee balms
- Blanket flowers
- Hardy geraniums
- Sweet peas
How to deadhead
Use your preferred clipping tool and scout out faded blooms throughout spring to autumn. You can take on different flower beds over time throughout these seasons (it’s an ongoing process).
Then comes the step of deciding where to cut, depending on your plant type. Generally, you can deadhead your spent flowers and stems back to 0.5cm above a new lateral flower, lateral leaf or bud.
Then, there are two ways to deadhead your mounding perennial plants (like Coreopsis and Perennial Salvia). There is ‘hard pruning’, where you can ‘cut back’ a majority of your faded blooms to about 5cm above the ground.
The second way to approach perennial deadheading is ‘pinching’. This is when you cut the growing tips, plus about 7cm of growth. This is great for plants like Coleus.
For larger, hardier plants with thicker stems, use more robust cutting tools and cut at a 45-degree angle to reduce disease and damage. Lastly, pick up all your offcuts and place them in your compost or garden refuse containers. For an extra boost, apply fertiliser to your plants.