Gary Haygood > Blog > Why Deadhead Your Garden

Why Deadhead Your Garden

Jul 31, 2017 0 Blog, Curb Appeal, Garden, Landscape Architecture, Plants

An often overlooked maintenance for your gardens is deadheading or removing spent flowers. Your garden will thank you and provide blooms longer and more beautiful if you take the time to deadhead.

We deadhead flowering plants for several reasons. It extends the bloom period, removes the seed source of species that could become weedy, and maintains the health of our flowering garden plants.

Many plants will bloom again if the flowers are removed. This is due to the life cycle of the plants having the ultimate goal of producing seed for the next generation. If we interrupt that process the plants will continue to try and complete their genetic programming.

Flowering plants are capable of producing a large seed bank containing 100s or even 1000s of seeds each year. The germination of these seeds has a couple of unexpected consequences. First, many times the seedlings will not match the original plant due to the complex breeding required to produce the mother plant.

Second, these seedlings could crowd out the mother plant. Deadheading these species before the seed are produced will alleviate the problems of unwanted seedling germination. Deadheading is also needed for plants that we grow for the foliage like Coleus. Removal of the non-showy flowers will allow the colorful foliage to be the focus.

The overall health of your flowering plants can be increased through deadheading. The production of seed (from the genetic programming to produce seed) requires a tremendous amount of energy from the plant, so much so that the plant will sacrifice all vegetative growth in order to produce the next generation. By removing the spent flower heads the plant can be maintained in a more vegetative growth stage through which the stems, leaves, and most importantly the root system will continue to grow.

The procedure for deadheading will depend on the flowering characteristics of the plants themselves.

For plants having single flowers, such as Coreopsis or Echinacea, removing the flower stalk is all that is needed. You can increase bloom size by removing side flowers buds from lateral growth so more energy is sent to the main flower; this will also reduce any seed production pressure later in the season or next year.

Many of our flowering garden plants have clusters of flowers, such as Achillea and Heuchera. These can be more troublesome. All of the flowers do not mature at the same time and seed is produced over a prolonged period. As the flower cluster starts to fade, remove it, and allow the plant to produce new clusters.

Some plants like Dianthus produce flowers over the entire plant. Removing individual flowers would discourage even the most dedicated gardener, so simply shear the plant using snips or an electric trimmer being careful to only remove the faded flower heads.


Taken from

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