You might think that we’re finally taking the French theme of our stunning Garden Show too far – what’s with all this “deadheading”?!
Deadheading simply means the removal of dead or spent flowers from ornamental annuals or perennials throughout the growing season (spring to autumn) before they go to seed. Rose bushes also benefit greatly from regular deadheading.
- It extends the flowering time of the plant.
- Going to seed requires a lot of energy from the plant. Deadheading prevents seed formation and the energy is utilized to form new blooms and healthy growth.
- Deadheading encourages a fresh flush of flowers on perennials.
- It improves the plants’ appearance as dead flowers look unattractive on the plants.
- Some plants are grown for their colorful or fragrant leaves, e.g. Basil and Coleus, and deadheading will extend the life of the plant.
How to deadhead your flowers:
It’s dead easy! Simply cut or pinch off (if the stems are soft) the flowering stem below the faded flower and above a new lateral bud or a healthy set of leaves. If all the flowering buds along the stem have faded, the whole stem can be cut down.
Plants with a profusion of small flowers can also be deadheaded by simply shearing the top third off the plant. You might lose a few flowers in the process, but the plants will be tidier and reward you with fresh new growth and flowers.
Different plants have different deadheading needs – some will need to be nipped back daily and others weekly or monthly. The weather plays a role as flowers will last longer during the cooler days of spring and autumn than during the hot and humid days of summer. The main thing is to keep an eye on fading blooms and do away with them.
Avoid deadheading of fruiting trees and shrubs as well as plants and herbs or vegetables that you wish to harvest seed from, like coriander or Echinacea.
Deadheading needn’t be a pain in the neck if you nip the plants as often and as early in the season as possible – a little bit every day is far less overwhelming than trying to do it all at once come mid-season. Your grateful plants will reward you with ample growth and an abundance of flowers all through the season!
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