How To Deadhead Your Flowers

Deadhead your flowers

Deadheading is the removal of fading or dead flowers from the plant, and by doing this encourages more blooms. It will keep the plants looking attractive, whether they are in garden beds, hanging baskets, or in containers.

It lengthens the blooming period of annuals by inhibiting seed formation. Removal of spent flowers will encourage healthy growth and allow your flowers to bloom beautifully.

It is also a technique used to prevent the process of seed formation, hence forcing the plants to flower soon.

Plants that often bloom only once during the growing season can also benefit from trimming. The removal of spent flowers will improve the plant’s appearance and encourage healthy foliage.

Everyone loves to attract beneficial insects into their garden, and you can do so by inhibiting flowers from setting seed. 

Deadheading will redirect the plant’s energy from setting seed to producing more blooms. It also helps maintain both the plant’s beautiful appearance and promote healthy growth.

Also, keeping your plants free from spent flowers can prevent potential diseases. This technique allows sunlight to penetrate to the inner part of the plant too.


How To Deadhead Your Flowers The Right Way

Blue pruning shears along with various spent flowers on the ground.

Dead-heading means to trim off flowers that start to wither and lose their attractiveness. Dying flowers that begin to wither can spoil your garden’s landscape, and trimming them off will keep the late-blooming flowers fresh and beautiful.

  • Using pruning shears is the easiest way to deadhead large flowers like daylilies and cone-flowers. You can remove only the dead flowers on the top if you find unopened flower buds below the stalk. Removing the whole shaft down to the base of the plants is necessary if you find that all the remaining flowers are starting to wither.
  • Gardeners often remove wilted flowers to keep the garden look healthy and fresh. Deadheading regularly will direct the plant’s energy into vigorous growth and abundant flowers.
  • In summer, cleaning off flowers with thin and softer stalks like petunias, coleus, and marigolds using your fingers is easy and fun.
  • Flowers in clusters like roses require regular pruning to direct energy into producing more buds. It is necessary to trim each flower off every time the petals start to fall.
  • In summer, if pruning shears and florist snips aren’t available to deadhead spent flowers, you can pinch them off using your fingers below the plant base.
  • You can cut delphiniums down to the soil surface to encourage the second round of blooms in the fall if you get them early in the growing season.
  • Plants like small lavender, thyme, and ground phlox produce lots of flowers. Give them a subtle pruning as the flowers begin to lose their attractiveness. Doing so will encourage a second and even third round of blooms if you catch them early in the growing season.
  • Losing a few flowers through shredding will urge the plant to recover quickly and produce another round of flowering.
  • However, for tall stem bedding plants like gaillardia, zinnias, and calendula, trim them off using shears just below the spent blossoms.
  • Perennial with tall flower spikes like lupine, delphinium, and baptisia are best cut back before the last few remaining flowers wilt, right when the seed pods start to form down at the base.
  • Cutting back mounded plants like ladies mantle, columbine, and even foxglove down to the ground surface will encourage a second round of beautiful blooms before their leaves start to wither.

How Deadheading Works

Deadheading requires no special skills. Simply trim off wilting flowers to remove seed pods that are starting to form behind the flower.

Although the concept of deadheading is to make the plant tidy and encourage a second round of bloom, the technique differs from one type of plant to another.

Though regarded as a form of pruning, deadheading flowers the right way encourages plants to grow healthy and to produce more flowers.

The practice of cutting back will make both you and your plants happy. It is a process that redirects the plant’s energy from seed production into flowering.

It will allow you to enjoy your beautiful flowers for some time as the plants get healthier with striking flower displays.


Plants To Deadhead:

A list of a few flower plants that require deadheading.

Geraniums

A cluster of pink geranium flowers.

Geraniums need very minimal deadheading to look great in summer. You can opt to plant them in containers and hanging baskets or directly in flower beds.

Cleaning spent flowers off can keep them blooming all summer long, and doing so is quite easy.

Geraniums have a tendency to become sparse and eventually stop blooming, which is why you should deadhead whenever your geranium flowers begin to wither.

Deadheading will encourage new growth to replace flowers that are starting to wither. The process will take just a few minutes but can help your plants last for several weeks to a few months longer.

Camellia

Camellias in bloom with a few dying flowers.

Camellias prefer to thrive in mild climates and are available in a variety of cultivars. These shrubs have glossy, broad foliage and gorgeous flowers.

Camellias usually bloom only once in its season and removing spent flowers help conserve the plant’s energy for healthy growth. Simply pinch off old blooms.

Roses

Black pruning shears in gardener's hand, pruning a yellow rose.

Deadheading is essential for roses to keep them blooming and tidy. Faded flowers can make the garden look unattended and turn wilted flowers into a soggy and slimy mess, particularly after the rain.

Disregarding to cut spent flowers will encourage fungal infections that can cause the early death of some stems.

Always cut back roses at a 45-degree angle where the stem meets a grouping of five leaves. Clip off spent flowers and new spikes regularly.

Delphiniums

A cluster of delphiniums in a shade of indigo.

Delphiniums display a spiky summer bloom in gorgeous shades of blue, pink, white, and purple. They are popular as cut flowers and are a beautiful addition to a cottage-style garden.

Cutting spent flowers is to be done right after the blooming period is finished. Removing old stalks down to the ground will encourage new flower stalks to develop.

Bleeding Heart

Six pink bleeding heart flowers in a cluster.

Bleeding heart plants are attractive perennials that produce heart-shaped flowers. They add charm and gorgeous colors to your spring garden.

Deadheading is one of the top essential maintenance requirements you can give to bleeding heart plants. You need to check, and snip-off spent flowers every other day to ensure the plant looks tidy and healthy.

Cutting off declining flower stems a few inches above the soil surface will encourage the bleeding heart to direct its energy to bloom rather than to produce seeds.

Lupine

Five stalks of purple lupine in bloom.

Perennials like lupine bloom only part of their growing season to store energy for the next year, and deadheading the flowers will encourage the plant to put on the second round of flowering.

Lupine usually blooms from late spring until midsummer and are often trimmed when most of the spiky flowers start to fade.

Coneflower

A bee and a butterfly sips the nectar out of the yellow coneflowers.

Cone-flowers attract and feed bees and butterflies when in bloom, and their seed provides valuable food for various birds from late summer to winter.

So it is recommended to deadhead spent blooms throughout the blooming period to keep the plant looking beautiful, but also recommended to leave spent flowers in the late summer-winter for the birds.

New hybrids usually do not produce viable seed, making it not of much interest to birds either.

Phlox

Pink phlox in bloom.

Phlox is a perennial that produces bright-colored flower spikes and usually blooms for about six weeks when given the proper care.

Removing spent blooms to prevent phlox from forming seeds will help keep the plants attractive and will prolong the flowering.

Salvia

A group of three bees feeding the nectar out of the purple salvia flowers.

Salvia is a perennial flower that attracts pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds making it a great way to help our environment. Leaving Salvia to bloom naturally can make them flowers twice in their growing season.

However, removing spent flowers can get the plant up to three or even four blooms in the entire season.

Shasta Daisies

Seven white shasta daisies in bloom.

Shastas usually bloom in summer and will continue throughout fall if you deadhead the plant regularly.

Deadheading daisies will not only improve their overall look but will also prevent the seed from developing and encourage new growth for more blooms.

Yarrow

A large umbrella-like white yarrow flower with tiny insects feeding on the top.

Yarrow is an attractive plant with its umbrella-shaped flower clusters and one of the gardener’s favorite because it requires minimal maintenance, is drought-resilience, and is relatively pest-free.

Cutting back spent flowers is necessary for aesthetic purposes and also to stimulate more blooming. This plant is an aggressive self sower, and removing spent flowers will divert its energy into producing more blooms.

Cutting back yarrow will help maintain the plant’s health and vitality. It encourages new growth with more vigorous stems and more fall blooms.


Plants That Require Minimal To No Deadheading:

Some of the perennials cannot bloom again, whether you deadhead or not, and the good news is that they will keep their tidy look even after they’ve finished flowering, which means cleaning them up isn’t necessary.

In some cases, leaving plants untrimmed will allow attractive seeds to form and remain in place for the gardeners to enjoy the beauty of the flowers in the winter season.

Trimming most annuals is necessary to keep the plants at their best. However, perennials are a matter of personal preference.

If attracting birds is your garden’s primary purpose, leaving perennials intact in the late fall is essential. Those dry seed heads will provide food for the birds during the fall and winter season.

Plants that don’t need deadheading are called self-cleaning plants. They continue to flower, even if you don’t remove wilted blooms.

Here are some plants that don’t need deadheading:

Baptisia

Purple Baptisia in bloom.
Image by: plants.ces.ncsu.edu

Baptisia Australis, known as false indigo, is a beautiful flower in the shade of blue-violet.

False indigo has a shrubby, upright stalk that offers a long season of beautiful spiky flowers.

Leaving them intact without deadheading will make spent flowers develop into purple pods that generate a rattling sound when the wind blows.

New Guinea Impatiens

Pink New Guinea Impatiens in bloom.

New Guinea Impatiens are an excellent choice for long-blooming flowers in your garden, and no deadheading is required to keep them blooming for months.

This plant has very few pest problems, and requires low maintenance and best performs when holding their larger flowers along with its foliage.

This attractive annual does not require you to remove old blooms to enjoy its vibrant colors all summer long. This variety has a self-cleaning habit that allows you to enjoy its beautiful large flowers effortlessly.

Begonias

Peach begonias in beautiful blooms.

Begonias are one of the most rewarding and preferred household flowering plants to grow in containers.

Most of the begonias keep themselves tidy by dropping old blooms and re-blooms again. It includes the common wax begonia, angel wing begonias, and tuberous begonias.

Sedum

A cluster of pink star-shaped Sedum flowers.

Sedum plants require low maintenance, are very forgiving and remarkably tolerant types of plants. Sedum has very few pest and disease issues and prefers partial to full sun spots in well-drained soil.

Trimming sedum is not necessary unless the plants are getting wild and out of control. Sedum seed heads are attractive, which is why most gardeners allow them to remain on the plant in the fall and winter. You should prune them only in the early spring.

Peonies

Three unopened buds and three pink peonies flowers in bloom.

Deadheading peony isn’t necessary, so doing so would be a personal choice. After all, removing potential hiding places for diseases is one of the best ways to keep your plant disease-free.

Some gardeners never worry about cutting back peonies, particularly in the fall. Instead, you might want to leave them to decay in its patch.

Nemesia

Yellow and red flowers of Nemesia.

Nemesia is also considered a self-cleaning plant, which means it requires no deadheading. If you want to snip off spent flowers and cut away their stems, you can do so, but withering flowers and dying stems usually fall off the plant naturally.

Lantana

A cluster of yellow and pink lantana.

Lantana has colorful flowers that attract butterflies, and most varieties are seedless. Because no seed pods are starting to form, removing spent flowers on Lantana is rather pointless.

Lantana shrubs make an excellent ground cover, beddings, border plants, and they can be an attractive container for gardens too.

This perennial requires very minimal deadheading to encourage new flower buds to grow on the shrubs.

Million Bell

Yellow and purple million bells in bloom.

Million bells are considered self-cleaning plants and do not require trimming. Spent flowers drop by themselves, following the bloom, and you can snip stems off from before they become wild if you want to encourage a compact growth habit.

Wave Petunias

Wave petunias in bloom with white and pink flowers.

Unlike regular petunias, wave petunias require no deadheading. Spent flowers fall naturally from the plants, as they wither and then new blooms take place.

It is one of the top low maintenance plants and is considered an easy to grow flower, and you don’t have to deadhead wave petunias for it to keep blooming.

Angelonia

White angelonia in blooms.
Image by: gardenista.com

Angelonia is another self-cleaning plant that comes in various shades and usually thrives in full sun, while spent flowers and dead foliage fall from the stalk naturally.

It does not need deadheading to keep blooming continuously. They make for an excellent annual bedding plant border that will give you a beautiful display.

Lilies

A beautiful pink lily flower along with three unopened buds.

Deadheading lilies will not encourage new bloom, because they do not re-bloom after the primary flowering withers.

Usually, removing spent flowers will encourage new growth for some flowers, but this isn’t the case for lilies. After the stem blooms once, then that’s it.

Cutting-off spent flowers won’t make way for new buds. However, doing so will clean up the overall appearance of the plant, making your garden look tidier.


Final Thoughts On How To Deadhead Your Flowers

To attract pollinators is the primary goal of flowers so that the plant can reproduce another new plant. After completing its tasks, the plants stop producing flowers and begin to die while some flowers like perennials go into dormancy until next year. 

However, deadheading prevents the plants from developing seed, which makes the plants continue to produce flowers.

Aside from tidying up your garden, deadheading at the right time can help you prolong the bloom period or even encourage a second or even third round of more vibrant flowering.

Removing spent flowers of plants like daylilies, roses, and azaleas will stimulate new growth by directing the plant’s energy from forming seed into producing new flower buds.

Overall, frequent deadheading can extend the flowering period for several months. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below.

 

About Benita Abucejo

Hi there! My name is Benita Abucejo. What can I say? I truly love spending my days in the outdoors, specifically in the garden. Gardening has always been a strong passion of mine since I was a little girl. It has brought me so much joy and happiness that it is definitely safe to say that I will be a gardener for life. For a period of time, I was able to work with people who are into home gardening and I found it to be quite beneficial to my physical health, as well as my mental well-being. Here at Seasonal Preferences, I am going to share with you my experience and ideas so that you can fulfill yourself with the same satisfaction and happiness. Of course, if you have ideas, I would love to hear those as well! Being creative in the garden can really be quite fascinating so let's share our experiences and be the best gardeners we can be. With that being said, thank you for dropping by and please leave me a comment on one of my posts if you would like to get in touch!

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