We have reached that pinnacle of the gardening season when we need to deadhead many of our perennials and shrubs. The spring and summer flush is over, and we’re faced with ugliness at the end of the stem.
Wait a minute.
You say you don’t want to? It’s too hot outside? You’d rather sip a cold lemonade while lying on a hammock? Better yet, you’ll just drop your pruners and head indoors where it’s cool.
Before you leave, here are five good reasons to stay.
- Deadheading promotes new growth and more blooms. It tells your plants that just because it’s hot and dry is no reason to stop. See the faded pink blooms on the rose above? Newer flowers are crowding in and trying to bloom on top of the faded ones. That’s not pretty. Some roses also form rose hips sapping energy from the bush and telling it to slow down or do nothing.
Note: On most roses, try to make your cut above the first set of five leaves. Honestly though, with my Knockouts or other shrub roses, I just cut them off wherever. I even use shears, and it doesn’t seem to faze them. On other shrubs like my ‘Anthony Waterer’ spirea, I use shears too.
- Deadheading stops annuals from setting seed. From an annual’s point of view, its sole purpose is to make as many flowers as possible, set seed and die. I doubt if you want your annuals to die just yet. I know what you’re thinking, but really, you don’t.
- Deadheading allows new blooms to open, especially with larger flowers like daylilies, which can get hung up in the old and not open properly. I deadhead my daylilies everyday.
- Deadheading makes your perennials, annuals and shrubs look nice and neat. Old growth, unless we’re talking about hardwood forests, is ugly.
- Deadheading gives plants renewed vigor. I’m planning to more than deadhead this ‘Laura Bush’ petunia. I’m going to cut it back by half. This month, I’ll also cut the salvia ‘Victoria Blue’ in half. It promotes bushier growth, and they look better going into the latter part of summer and fall.
I know it’s hot and dry. All the more reason you should deadhead your plants and give them some nutrients while you’re out there. This time of year, plant foliage has a washed out look. Tomorrow morning before it gets too hot, I’ll spray all my plants with a diluted mixture of Garden-Ville’s Sea Tea. It makes the garden and me smell like the lake for a day, but it also increases plant stamina during the dog days of summer.
As the Nike commercial says, “Just do it.” You’ll be glad you did.