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Deadheading, Off With Their Heads!

Deadheading your flowers is essential to keeping many of them blooming. One of the best ways to keep a colorful garden all Summer long!

By deadheading or removing the spent flowers before they go to seed you can keep many summer flowers blooming well into Fall.  I show you how easy it is!

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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

What does deadheading mean?

Deadheading is the removing 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 refreshes the plants appearance and it helps to stop plants from from reseeding where you don’t want them.

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

How Does Deadheading work?

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 tricks the plant into producing more flowers so it can produce 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 Foxgoves go to seed so I can collect them. See this post for how I save seeds. 

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.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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.

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.

Using my Bypass Pruners I clip the poppy stem right down to the first junction where the stem is emerging from leaves.  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 roses frame work 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 their 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 in 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 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 the 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 I do to keep my garden in full color most of the summer.  I also make sure to plant flowers that bloom in succession.

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.

See my post Flowers to Plant for Continuous Color for more info.

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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Barb

Wednesday 12th of August 2020

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.

Pamela

Wednesday 12th of August 2020

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.

Kate Hallberg

Saturday 18th of January 2020

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.

Naomi Shelton

Saturday 8th of June 2019

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.

Peggy Z

Wednesday 20th of June 2018

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

Peggy Williams

Wednesday 20th of June 2018

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

Pamela

Wednesday 20th of June 2018

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

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