Deadhead your flowers

What is deadheading? Deadheading is removing dead or spent flowers off your plants. This keeps your flower bed fresh looking and well manicured throughout the season.

It is important to deadhead for several reasons. Not only does it improve the looks of your flowers bed, but it can lenghten bloom time and may even give you a second blooming.  By pinching or cutting spent flowers, the plants redirects its energy back to more flower production instead of seed production. The more you discourage seed production the harder the plant will try produce flowers. Deadheading also keeps unwanted perennials from spreading all over your flower bed.

When you deadhead, it stimulates new growth and plants will be stronger, bushier and healthier. For best results cut plants back after they have bloomed for 6 weeks which by this time tend to get leggy with less flowers.

Depending on the type of plants, the general guidelines to deadheading (which may vary with some plants) is accomplished the following ways.

Single individual flowers such as bee balm, delphinium, cosmos, larkspur, phlox, zinnias, Shasta daisies, salvia can be cut back to the strong side buds where they will make new flowers.

With tall individual flowers such as columbine, hollyhocks, foxglove, balloon flowers, gladiolus, faded florets should be pinched off along the stem. This will promote larger flowers as the new buds open. Once all the flowers are finished blooming, cut the stem to a leaf bud to encourage smaller side shoots.When the plant is finished blooming cut the stem down to the base. It may re-bloom later with smaller flowers from the base.

For small bushy plants that produce lots of blooms such as alyssum, lobelia, dianthus, and thread leaf coreopsis, it is best to snip the drying/faded heads with scissors or shears when the blooming season is half over. This is much faster than trying the tedious task of clipping each flower. The plant may look a little scrawny but will recover in time for fall bloom.

As you admire your colorful flowerbed outside, don’t hesitate to pick a bouquet to bring inside to enjoy. It’s good for the plant and good for the soul.