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.
Great minds think alike. 🙂 Onward with courage, huh?
Robin Wedewer says
Good points all, Dee. You forgot one of my favorite reasons to deadhead; You can generally do it without sweating!
Robin, I can tell you don’t live here! We sweat when we walk out the door. 🙂 ~~Dee
Hi Dee, like Lisa, I have been a slacker about some of the deadheading, especially the daylilies. The ones planted along the path are the most likely to get tidied up. But I have snapped off unopened buds by mistake, so figure that is even worse. Like breaking lamps while dusting, it’s better to let the dust be there than break something. I do get to the one rose that needs it the most, About Face. The Knockouts get the heavy treatment with the loppers. The salvia gregiis already got a haircut, the stipa tenuissima got cut to the ground, the balloon flowers get a daily deadhead, like campanula persicifolia. The asiatic lilies are trimmed, gaillardia, butterfly weed, veronicas were done, I guess we haven’t been slacking that much after all. Thanks for a good tutorial.
Oh Frances, I’ve snapped off a lot of blooms too. I can’t deadhead with gloves on at all. I just do my best & hope for the best too. Don’t we all? You’re actually ahead of me on many things. The post was a reminder to me too.~~Dee
Hey, honey– I deadhead mostly because I like to putter around. 🙂 I didn’t know I was supposed to do that to annuals, too. Thanks! More puttering!
Yes, cutting annuals back makes them spread out and fly.~~Dee
Deadheading is one of the few gardening tasks I can manage after my knee surgery, so I’m doing it with relish!! It really does make the garden look so much more polished and beautiful. I love going out each day and snapping the spent blooms from my daylilies – I find it very relaxing 🙂
Amy, me too on the stress relief. Most are just the right height and don’t hurt my back either.~~Dee
Mr. McGregor's Daughter says
It’s funny, this morning as I was deadheading my Daylilies, I was wondering if you deadheaded all of them every day. I have only a few, so deadheading them takes about a minute total, and I know you have a lot. You know how much I love deadheading (except for those Campanula persicifolias), I so agree with your advice.
MMG, I do everyday, but sometimes I’ll miss one or two blooms. While I was sick, I didn’t deadhead them and some of the blooms didn’t open properly because of it. I truly like walking through the garden every morning and snapping off the spent blooms. Makes me see what else is going on.~~Dee
Makes good sense to me! My roses are going berserk having dead headed them a couple of weeks back, but sadly the rain is turning them to mush. Wish is was hot and dry here!
Zoe, I’m so sorry. You’ve had a lot of rain, and it’s been kind of cold there too, hasn’t it?~~Dee
Thanks for encouraging to deadhead, I always try to get the time. You have mentioned all the reasons why it is so important to. A lot of people still don’t and when I see spent flowers I always wish I had my secateurs on me! x
Hi Louise, I’ve been known to snap off stems in parking lot gardens. Don’t tell.~~Dee
I’m an almost-obsessive deadheader and pincher. I make exceptions for plants with seeds the wildlife enjoy like coneflowers, for things like astilbes, sedums, and hydrangeas, since I like the looks of the dried flowers, and for a few perennial self-seeders that I’d like more of.
Linda, I leave a lot of my coneflower heads on too, and the hydrangeas look very nice. Good points.~~Dee
I just brought a hanging basket back to life it seems due to deadheading. I’m a firm believer in deadheading and pruning! Thanks for the reminder!
Oh, yes, Sherri, hanging baskets and containers often need some deadheading because they have so much growth.~~Dee
That’s what I needed to get going with my spent flowers and thank you for the push. I honestly didn’t think about deadheading salvia. It is looking very leggy. I’d like to see the before and after with that Laura Bush petunia. One pic with it trimmed and then as it blooms back out.
Anna, I’ll take a photo before and after and post it. Good idea.~~Dee
Lisa at Greenbow says
In the past I have been the deadhead Queen. However I have slacked off some. I was wondering why a couple of plants that I had heard were self seeders and somewhat invasive. Well, I was deadheading them so much they couldn’t self seed. I have learned that with some plants I have to let them go or they don’t spread. Roses always do so much better when they are deadheaded. I have been slacking lately. I really need to get out in the garden and do some weeding and deadheading.
Good points, Lisa. If you want some things to self sow, leaving the seeds on or taking the deadheaded piece and waving it over the garden is an effective way to create more plants. Thanks for the reminder.~~Dee
I deadhead my daylilies almost every day and am rewarded with blooms from April through December.
Deadheading is fabulous, thanks for reminding us!
Daylilies need deadheading everyday because they trap the other blooms. Oh, that reminds me, I need to get out there.~~Dee
All right already. I will quit putting it off and get on with deadheading. How did you know I am being a slacker?
Deb, I promise I didn’t.~~Dee
Why do I feel like this post is a cosmic finger pointing right at me? Surely it isn’t because deadheading is one of those things I tend to be lackadaisical about (about which I tend to be lackadaisical? That sounds so stilted.). OK, tomorrow I’ll make a concerted effort to deadhead something … I know, a salvia! There are several of those that need some attention.
Sorry, Cindy, I had myself in mind when I wrote this. I have a large garden, and it still needs attention.~~Dee
Carol, May Dreams Gardens says
Excellent advice. Deadheading is one of those gardening chores that some gardeners, especially new gardeners, are reluctant to do because they think they’ll cut off too much, or do it wrong somehow. The real ‘wrong’ is not to do it at all!
“The real wrong is not to do it at all” is so true, Carol. Now, where are my clippers?~~Dee