What Exactly is Deadheading Flowers? 7 Reasons You Should Do It!

A simple way to boost your garden’s flower power is to deadhead spent and fade blooms.

Removing completed flowers requires a bit of trickery.

Of course, a plant’s only goal in life is to reproduce. It does so by giving off attractive and fragrant blooms that draw in nearby pollinators. Flowerheads will lose their petals and eventually produce seedheads if pollen has been transferred from the anther to the stigma.

The plant’s life goal has been achieved, from the standpoint of the plant. All of its energy will now be used to create seeds. No new flowers, and often shabby-looking leaves, as a result.

But when we remove the flowers quickly, before seeds have begun to develop, the plant will have renewed purpose.

The plant will go back into seed-making mode after the switch, giving it another opportunity.

That allows us to enjoy the lovely hue, shape, and fragrance of a garden for a little longer.

Your garden will be in bloom until the first frost if you do regular and proper deadheading.

Deadheading has a few additional benefits: it produces another round of blooms, as well as:

1. Healthier looking plants

A lot of the plant’s energy reserves are used up by setting seed. Other aspects of the plant might begin to look unkempt and tattered as plants transition to seed production.

However, by removing faded blooms, energy is directed toward flowers, leaves, and root development, resulting in overall healthy looking plants.

Removing the flowering stalk will keep the leaves looking healthy and fresh even with cultivars we don’t typically grow for their flowers, such as hostas.

2. Prevent self-seeding

Self-seeders are a few plants that are generous. Deadheading will help keep their seed launching in check if you don’t want to be picking plants off your lawn come spring.

3. A tidier garden

Unsightly drying and browning of flowers may occur. The garden will be kept neat and tidy if these eyesores are removed.

4 Reasons Not to Deadhead

The seedheads on the plant are completely optional, and there are times when you may want to keep them.

1. Not all plants should be deadheaded

Some plants produce attractive seedheads, and are grown especially for them. Some plants that shouldn’t be deadheaded include ornamental grasses, teasels, sedums, and alliums.

2. It’s bird food

In the winter, when food sources are scarce, allowing your plants to go to seed will help feed birds and other wildlife. Some of our feathered and hairy pals’ favorite and most delicious snacks include coneflower, sunflower, and Rudbeckia seeds.

3. You want your plants to spread

Deadheading will only prolong the effort of filling in bare patches in the garden. Let the seeds grow on and then drop to form a gorgeous plant carpet.

4. It can be time consuming

Deadheading each and every blossom might be an all-day job depending on how big your garden is. For others, it’s a convenient way to garden, while for others, it just adds work.

It’s perfectly acceptable to let nature take its course if you don’t have the time (or inclination) to deadhead.

How to Deadhead Flowers – 3 Methods

1. Pinching

Since it requires no tools, pinching is the simplest and most convenient method to deadhead. You can pinch off spent blooms as you go while walking through your garden every time.

Plants with thin and meaty stems, such as petunias, pansies, daylilies, yarrow, salvia, and coleus are best suited for this technique.

Grasp the flowerhead in your hand and follow the stem down to the first set of leaves, then pinch off the flowerhead:

Apply pressure to the flowering stem with your thumb and index finger until it breaks away.

Pulling on flowerheads to separate them from the calyx is dangerous since it may leave nascent seed pods behind.

All reproductive parts of the flower will be completely removed by pinching down to the first set of leaves. It also protects the prune operation better than pinching just below the flowerhead.

2. Pruning

A good pair of pruning shears will be required for bigger flowers with thick, woody, or prickly stems.

Deadheading is the same technique as pinching – simply snip off the stem below the flower to the first set of leaves. Roses, coneflowers, cosmos, lupins, foxgloves, bee balm, and other plants may be deadheaded in this manner.

You may avoid giving your plants the chopped look by making your cuts a little lower down the stem.

Prune the stem down to the first set of five leaves is what most people do when deadheading roses. And finally, at a 45-degree angle away from the bud eye, cut the bud.

Roses, on the other hand, will bloom most brilliantly when the flower and stem are severed at the first set of leaves, so these extra steps aren’t necessary.

Just remove the withered flower and leave the healthy blooms and growing flower buds on the plant when deadheading plants that blossom in clusters.

Cut the stem all the way to the base of the plant if you want to complete blooming throughout its length.

3. Shearing

Deadheading each bloom individually is tedious work when plants produce masses of blooms, such as catmint, daisies, lavender, and alyssum.

Instead, the majority of these plants may be sheared away. With one hand, collect all of the leaves together; with the other, use the pruners to cut away approximately three inches of foliage:

Cutting the plant back before most of the blooms have passed their prime is a good idea.

It may be a little terrifying to clip your plants this much. Don’t be concerned, in about 2 to 3 weeks, your plants will rebound and give you additional blooms as a reward.

General Deadheading Tips

Give your plants a good drink of water right after you finish deadheading them. Fertilizing your plants, such as by using compost tea, will help them recover faster from bloom-making mode.

When bees and wasps are tucked in for the night, the best time of day to deadhead is either in the early morning or at dusk.

Keep your cutting tools sharp, lubricated, and clean for a quick and easy job rather than a drawn-out and tedious job.

You can dispose of deadheaded flowers and stems by tossing them in the compost bin or laying them on top of the soil as mulch as long as they are free of diseases and pests.

Consider self-cleaning cultivars if you despise deadheading but need constant bloom. Some plants that will rebloom without the need of a deadhead include begonia, impatiens, nemesia, and calibrachoa.

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