Deadhead flowers for a longer bloom time!

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.

You know I love a good reseeding plant but within reason! 

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Rudbeckia and Larkspur in bloom with text overlay, Keep your summer flowers blooming all season long well into Fall! Flower Patch Farmhouse dot com

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, Papaver rhoeus, Corn Poppy, Deadheading can keep it blooming longer. More is always better!

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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How to deadhead flowers for continuous bloom all summer long. Deadheading is easy enough as quick clip.

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.

How deadheading flowers in your cottage garden can encourage a longer bloom time, clear until first Frost!

Roses are the same.

How to deadhead flowers for continuous bloom all summer long, deadheading is the ticket

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

How to deadhead flowers for continuous bloom all summer long, deadheading is the way to go!

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.

Deadheading flowers for continuous bloom all summer long,

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.

How to deadhead flowers for continuous bloom all summer long,

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.

How to deadhead flowers for continuous bloom all summer long,

I cut these back to a juncture too.  You can cut to the first juncture or further back. The choice is yours.

How to deadhead flowers for continuous bloom all summer long,

My Gaillardias are powerhouses of blooms this time of year and they keep on trucking if I keep them deadheaded.

How to deadhead flowers for continuous bloom all summer long,

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.

Plant your Garden for Continuous Color

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!

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18 Comments

  1. Now you have absolutely blown my mind. I had no idea that Poppies could be dead headed and re-bloom. Thank you for telling us this. I learn so much from you!

    1. I learned it by accident. I had a volunteer poppy come up in my Secret Garden last summer and I kept deadheading it as I did not want it to go to seed there, it was the wrong color. And it just kept on blooming and blooming. For years I have grown them alongside the road beside my house and they would be filled with blooms in Spring, go to seed and that was it until the next Spring, I thought that was it. Trial and error are my best teachers. 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for this information on deadheading. I learned a lot. I knew to pinch off spent blooms on pansies and that was about it! Your site is always so fun and informative and I love having the pictures to see exactly what you are describing.

    1. I actually learned by accident. Just kept deadheading one that popped up in an area I did not want it to reseed and it just kept on blooming. Sometimes it was hard to hold the camera and push the button with my left hand while holding the pruners with the other in the correct spot. 🙂 I probably looked like a real dork to anyone driving past.

  3. I already knew about deadheading some flowers but never thought it would work with my poppies. Going to try it next year, too late now. Thanks for garden info and photos really help.

    1. It was an accidental discovery. To be truthful that is how I learned most of my garden tips and tricks. Trial and error. 😀

  4. How can you a tell a larkspur that has lost its flower ad is going to seed from one beginning to bloom? This is my first year of growing larkspur. I have not been able to find any pictures that show the difference between a bud and from a seed pod. Thank you!

    1. That is a good question as they look very similar. A new bloom is a bit more rounded on the end than a bud. As soon as mine bloom and go to seed I will share a photo but I will also see if I can find a photo of what you ask in my stash.

  5. Great info on deadheading. Also plant for continuous color is very helpful! I I sometimes leave the spent flowers from plants laying on the ground hoping they will reseed. Then come winter when weeding I pick the starts and loose more plants that way! Except Cosmos, I know what to look for and love when they reseed because you get shorter plants that way not some 6 foot monsters!

    1. I agree, the ones that reseed themselves typically are stockier and sturdier than ones you pre-start. I seeded Queen Cleome last Fall but I did not get any, I need to try that one again. I know what you mean, sometimes I get a bit to zealous with weeding and realize later I yanked up things that had self sowed so I should’ve transplanted to a better spot if they were somewhere I really did not want them. Ah well, try again next year. 🙂

  6. Thank you for the info. I knew to do that for roses, but had no idea you could do all those flowers.

    1. Are gardens a wonderful thing! Some of them bloom a little more but many just keep on blooming their little bloomers off. 🙂

  7. Thank you for this post. I pull the blossoms off but will try your method and see what happens.

  8. Pamela, your flower garden is so beautiful! I, too, try to keep up with deadheading my flowering plants. Thanks, though, for the detailed tutorial.

    I have a question for you: Some time ago I seem to remember one of your posts was about building a garden fountain using several sizes of clay pots and saucers. I have looked through previous posts but haven’t been able to locate that one. If you could tell me when you posted that one I would really appreciate it. I am anxious to have a fountain in my garden.

  9. I see you sneakily don’t reveal how sharp those innocent Gailardias actually are.

    I confess I carry mini pruners, especially for roses. I can’t count the number of people I’ve taught to prune. I don’t want to look at anybody’s ugly plants.

  10. I have a question about seeds…how long are they good for. I have a couple of seed packets that are dated 2 years ago. Will they still grow? Thank you, I feel like I’ve learned so much from you.

    1. You can still use them,the germination rate may not be as good as fresh but you should still get more than half to grow.

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