Deadheading Flowers

Deadheading For Yardeners

For Yardeners, deadheading is an optional task!

As we describe here, deadheading does make a difference in the appearance of a neat flower bed, however if you do not deadhead your plants their health is in no way affected. Deadheading is the process of removing faded blossoms from plants, not only keeping a garden looking neat, but also encouraging repeat bloom and finally preventing plants from self-seeding. Many plants are stimulated to blossom longer and more profusely when their old flowers and forming seedpods are removed. Deadheading can also be used to prevent plants from reseeding.

Deadhead by pinching off spent blossoms with your finger nails or snip them off with scissors.

If you are going to go to the trouble then it is better to deadhead fading blossoms rather than waiting until the blossom is completely dead and dried out.

Deadheading Bulbs - Bulbs also benefit from deadheading because making seeds unnecessarily drains energy from them. However, it is very important to leave the foliage of hardy bulbs and allow it to yellow and die naturally after bloom. During this period, these plants look scraggly and unattractive, but it is essential that the leaves be permitted to produce energy for next year’s bloom. When the leaves of early spring bulbs have begun to turn yellow, you can plant annuals right on to of the bulbs. Or, use Hostas as companion plants; their foliage will emerge and hide the yellowing bulb foliage.

The following flowers really do perform better if they are deadheaded:

Deadheading For Gardeners

Nancy, the gardener, has a more detailed view about deadheading.

When hot weather arrives it's time for me to tidy up the garden, and that means deadheading flowers and removing tatty foliage; not terribly exciting but worth the effort.
Deadheading, the removal of spent blooms, keeps a flower garden looking good and helps keep the color coming. It's especially important in hot, dry weather when blossoms don't last long and fade to an ugly brown. And we have had some serious hot weather with no rain here in Michigan. The sooner the spent blooms are removed, the sooner the reflowering plants will go to work replacing them.

Tools of the trade for deadheading are your thumb and forefinger for pinching small blooms, a pair of scissors or pruning shears for cutting thick stems and pruning shears for shearing back large stands of plants.

The tatty foliage of some perennials, especially those that bloom early in the season, such as columbine and lady's mantle "Alchemilla," can be cut back, and soon new leaves will emerge. Be sure to keep newly trimmed plants well watered to encourage new growth.

Repeat bloomers, such as achillea yarrow,purple cone flower , Jupiter's beard, veronicas and decorative salvias should be deadheaded to keep the color coming. Cut the stems back to a leaf node or new shoot.

Plants whose foliage is highly valued throughout the season should have only their flower stalks removed. Pulmonaria, hosta, euphorbia and heuchera fall into this category.

Some plants produce attractive seed heads that decorate the winter garden. Upright sedums such as "Autumn Joy," "Matrona" and "Purple Emperor," along with echinacea, echinops, rudbeckia "Goldsturm" and decorative grasses, make stunning displays when dusted with frost or snow.

Spent daylily blossoms can be quickly snapped off by hand for those who enjoy the look of perfection. When all the buds have bloomed on the stem, known as a scape, cut it off at the base of the plant. Well-watered daylily foliage remains attractive through the season. Any leaf blades that become yellowed can be pulled from the base of the plant.

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