What deadheading means for your plants

Deadheading is a technique used to prolong flowering in some annuals. By removing flowers past their prime and before seed production, energy will be directed toward producing more buds. This ensures your plant will continue to flower for the entire season. In some cases, removing some of the extra buds can create larger blooms.

Flowers do not necessarily have to be dead before removing. After blooming, the flowers can be cut for use in arrangements. If your flowers are outdoors, this is a great way to liven up your indoor space. Be aware that insects may have made the flowers home and should be removed. Gently shaking the flower or submersion into water for several seconds can do the trick. In addition, to prolong the longevity of your cut flowers, after bringing them inside, submerge the stems in water and re-cut underwater. This ensures the flower is easily able to draw water into the stem. Also, use warm water in your vase. This too will encourage flower hydration.

For perennials, deadheading is used primarily to maintain the attractiveness of the garden. Deadheading perennials does not generally prolong bloom time. Depending on the type of plant, some individuals find the spent flowers to be attractive elements for the garden.

When deadheading, as with pruning, it is important to use clean tools to prevent the spread of disease between plants. Open cuts on the plant are excellent entry points for viruses and bacteria. Using rubbing alcohol to clean the blades of your tools between plants is an effective way to kill most germs.

pre_deadheading

Spent flowers left on the plant looks unattractive.

By removing the spent flowers, the plant has a more attractive appearance.

By removing the spent flowers, the plant has a more attractive appearance and can direct energy toward producing new blooms.

post_deadheading02

This plant was deadheaded a couple weeks ago and the new growth is quite beautiful. Some of the current blooms could be removed to encourage further bud development.

spent_flower

This flower’s color has begun to fade and is losing it’s attractiveness. There are several buds that could use the extra space and energy when they start to bloom.

deadhead_here

To remove the flower, cut back at the nearest node.

more_space

The buds will now have more space to expand into now that the spent flower is removed. More energy will also be directed toward these buds as opposed to seed production.

 

Resources:

LSU AG Center: Deadheading

Better Homes and Gardens: Deadheading

Sustainable Gardening: The Alaska Master Gardener Manual

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