Why deadhead flowers? Deadheading flowers is essential to keeping many of them blooming. One of the best ways to keep a colorful garden all Summer long is to deadhead your flowers frequently.
By deadheading or removing the spent flowers before they go to seed, you can keep many summer flowers blooming well into Fall. Learn how easy it is to deadhead flowers in your garden!
What is deadheading
Deadheading is the removal of fading or dead flowers on a plant. When you deadhead a plant the benefits are multiple.
Deadheading both your annual and perennial garden flowers refresh the plants’ appearance and helps stop plants from reseeding where you don’t want them.
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When to deadhead flowers
Flowers are engineered to bloom then go to seed to reproduce. When you cut off the fading flower (deadhead) before it has gone to seed it makes the plant think it has been unsuccessful in its goal.
Therefore deadheading as the current bloom fades tells the plant to produce more flowers so it can then make seeds. So your flowers produce more blooms keeping the garden full of flowers for a much longer time.
(note: not all flowers will re-bloom, they are just not engineered to do so. Iris, Delphiniums, and Foxgloves are some.) Delphiniums and Foxgloves may give you a small re-bloom if deadheaded when blooms are at about 70% finished and if you live in a long growing season area. I do not live in a long growing season area. I let Delphiniums and Foxgloves go to seed so I can collect them. See this post for how I save seeds.
The first frost in my area is usually about mid to late October. I can extend the flowering of many of these flowers until then if I keep up with deadheading. Some do not continue to bloom that long but will bloom longer than if not deadheaded.
Shirley Poppy aka Corn Poppy (Papaver Rhoeas) is a great example of how deadheading can force a pretty flowering plant to bloom longer.
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A poppy flower going to seed..the seed heads are pretty themselves and can be left to provide interest.
How to Deadhead Flowers
Most of my deadheading is the chop and drop method. Chop the stem down incrementally in approximately two-inch pieces and let them drop to the ground to compost in place. This is part of my sheet composting method. I don’t worry about it looking messy, the flowers are growing so thickly at this point that you don’t notice the ground or can’t really see it.
I clip the poppy stem right down to the first junction where the stem is emerging from leaves using my Bypass Pruners. This is where the next bloom will begin and you don’t have a dead stick just sitting above it.
Roses are the same.
Cut down to an outward-facing leaf node, this keeps the rose’s framework open. (If you struggle with diseases, just carry a paper bag and dispose of your rose clippings when you are done deadheading. It is advised to sanitize your pruners between cuts, I have never had to so I can’t speak to this with any authority
Did you see the shoot coming from the stem? My trim was not quite at the right angle but it did the trick. My roses are tough ones and not fussy in the least.
Larkspur will continue to bloom as well, filling the garden with its purple, lavender, and blue color for months.
Cut the stem down to the juncture. Or some cut the main stem down to mere 2 feet tall. They will bloom shorter but beautifully.
These larkspur are nearly as tall as I. Someone has asked what the difference is between the Larkspur new buds and the seed pods as they can look alike. The seed pods have a pointy end and the new buds are rounder.
My Sweet Peas are another matter. I don’t wait until they drop their flowers, I cut them while in full bloom. I trim down to the main stem, pop them in a vase of water, usually a little mason jar and bring them in to let their sweet scent fill the room.
In the Fall I will let them go to seed. I collect some but I let quite a bit drop to the ground to reseed themselves. These you see here are a reseed from last year.
I deadhead my Clematis as well. It encourages the re-bloomers to bloom again or continue to bloom and tidies them up.
I cut these back to a juncture too. You can cut to the first juncture or further back. The choice is yours.
My Gaillardias are powerhouses of blooms this time of year and they keep on trucking if I keep them deadheaded.
I cut the Gaillardias down to the leaf node as well. My finger is on the leaf and you see the faded flower above.
And that is essentially all you need to do to keep your garden in full color most of the summer. Make sure to plant flowers that bloom in succession as well.
See my post Flowers to Plant for Continuous Color for more info.
Do you Deadhead Perennials that won’t Rebloom?
Some perennials bloom only once per year, even with deadheading so what is the benefit of cutting them back?
Cutting back the flower stalks allows all the plant’s energy to be put back into its roots and foliage. This allows it to regain any energy it lost to flowering and making for a hardier plant. Plus it just looks prettier.
What is the Difference Between Pruning and Deadheading?
Deadheading is a gardening term that defines the process of removing faded or dead flowers from plants.
Deadheading is a type of pruning in which old-growth and seed heads are removed from the plant. This promotes new growth and re-flowering.
I started many of the plants shown in this post from Seed. A budget-friendly way to get plenty of plants!
For more on starting seeds, you may enjoy these posts
Sow your Seeds in Fall
Start Seeds for a Glorious Garden
Saving Seeds from Your Garden
For more garden tips and tricks just visit my Garden Page it’s just full of fun stuff!
Happy Gardening. You know where to find me this weekend!