The Why & How of Deadheading





The term deadhead used to mean something quite different back in the day when I was busy following a band called PHISH (@PHISH).  Now that I’m married, with a baby girl, and new flower gardens it means a completely different thing I assure you.

Deadheading is the process of pinching, pulling, or cutting wilted or “spent” blooms before they go to seed.  By removing these blooms we in essence “trick” the plant into trying to produce seeds.  If done properly the plant will produce more blooms, and the cycle continues so that we get blooms full season.  However, deadheading does have many other benefits for the plants themselves…

The “Whys” of Deadheading

  • Deadheading allows flowering plants to expend energy in creating new buds for more blooms (more of a selfish benefit, but hey they’re beautiful)
  • Removing spent blooms before they seed promotes air circulation reducing fungal infections, and other diseases in the garden.
  • Keeps your gardens nice and neat by not letting seed pods go to seed and reseed the plant all over.
  • Prevents insects like slugs that feed on the moist, rotting old flower heads.
  • Spent blooms simply look ugly!!!

Make sure that you do your research on any flowering plant before you deadhead any plants. Requirements can differ for different types of plants; in fact many plants don’t even require deadheading at all.  You should start deadheading before the blooms stop blooming, and definitely before they go to seed.  I usually look for some color loss, or significant wilt in the bloom, that’s when I know it’s for deadheading.

The “How’s” of Deadheading

  • A deadheaders favorite tool is a pair of sharp, clean hand pruners.
  • A spent bloom should be cut well below the bloom, but be sure not to cut off any buds, you want to make sure to cut above any buds.
  • Do your best to cut at a 45° angle, and some people like to seal the cut I don’t see it as important though as the plant will naturally seal itself.
  • Remember deadheading removes seed pods so if you wish the plant to reseed, or “spread” DON’T DEADHEAD!

So that’s it easy-peasy, by deadheading you can enjoy those beautiful blooms all year round, keep your plants healthy, and keep your gardens clean and neat.  There are many other resources on how to deadhead specific species, and I definitely recommend you seek them out before cutting away!

Thanks to:
The Gardeners Network

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