How to Deadhead Flowers
Deadheading flowers will encourage more blooms on flowering plants. The normal goal of a plant is to flower, set seeds and die. Since we want them to continue to set flowers, for our aesthetic enjoyment and to continue attracting beneficial insects, we want to discourage flowers from setting seed. Deadheading the flower as it expires will redirect the plants energy from setting seed to creating more blooms.
Additionally, keeping your plants free of dying material will discourage disease and allow more parts of your plant to receive sunlight. Follow these simple steps to keep your flowers healthy and beautiful all summer! Below are some descriptions of how to dead-head different types of flowers.
- The dying flowers of summer bedding plants such as marigolds and petunias, can be simply pinched off between finger and thumb, just below the base of the flower. Alternatively, use scissors or florists’ snips. Lilies and other bulbs will start to form seed pods as soon as the flowers begin to fade. Cut off only the tip of the flower stalk, leaving the rest of the stem to die down naturally, during which time it will make food for the bulb to bloom next year.
- The tall flower spikes of some perennials, such as lupine, delphinium, and baptisia, are best cut back before the last few flowers are finished, as seed pods are already forming at the base. Prune out the stalk to just above the leaves. If you get them early enough delphiniums can be cut right to the ground for a second round of blooms in the fall.
- Plants which produce masses of flowers, like short lavender, thyme, and ground phlox, can be given a ‘haircut’ with hedge clippers or scissors as soon as the flowers lose their color. This will encourage a second, and even a third round of blooms if you get them early enough.
- Tall stem bedding plants, such as gaillardia, zinnias, and calendula can be simply snipped off with sharp scissors just above the next set of leaves beneath the spent blossom.
- Mounded plants like Ladies mantle, columbine, and even foxglove will give a second round of fresh greenery and possible even blossoms if you cut them back to the ground just before they start fading in to yellow or brown leaves.
Read more on deadheading flowers.