Deadheading: The Beauty and Bane of a Flower Garden

July 19, 2013
I am a deadheader.  

Just what is deadheading?

"Deadheading" is the removal of spent blossoms to encourage further blooming and/or to improve the appearance of the plant and garden.  
I have been outside "deadheading" for a couple hours and am still not done.  After three days of hard rain, deadheading is a must.
I have read many a garden book that touts deadheading. The whole theory of deadheading is that the plant will have extra vigor to produce more blossoms if the spent bloom and seed producing part of the stem are removed.  If the plant is not seed producing, it can set forth more new blossoms".
Deadheading Annuals
A spent blossom on a trailing petuna pinched off below the seed forming area of the stem.  

If you don't like pinching off the spent flower, (my preferred method) you can use a pruning snips or shears.  I use a Fiskars Pruning Snip.
Deadheading Annuals
The Bidens has so many dead blossoms to remove, I pop them off with my thumb and forefinger.

Deadheading a fuchsia.
Research has went into producing both sterile plants that can not produce seed, and/or plants labeled as "no deadheading" required.  These plants will go on blooming even if they are not deadheaded.  The plant tag at the greenhouse usually state this.  
I continue to deadhead these too.  The plants just look better, and I don't mind doing it.  It's a chance to be outside, in your garden, with Mother Nature... need I go on?
When I have a  lot of deadheading to do, like today, I drop the pruned plant material on the ground around the flower beds.
Deadheading Annuals
I find this goes faster for me to rake up around the flower beds when I am done, rather than to put each dried blossom in a container.
Deadheading Annuals
For daily deadheading of a few spent flowers, I have small terra cotta pots stationed around the gardens.  I got this idea from my sister in law.  I like the look of terra cotta pots.  You can have some tucked almost everywhere.  They can be emptied every few days.
Deadheading before and afters:
Deadheading Annuals
Moss roses get a slimy, brown spent blossom. I just pull them off.  
Deadheading Annuals
Nicotiana after deadheading.  Deadheading keeps them blooming all summer.
Deadheading Annuals
Petunias almost have to be deadheaded to look their best.
Deadheading Annuals
Bidens before and after deadheading.
Deadheading Perennials
Perennial deadheading is much less time consuming as the plants normally just bloom once over a short period of time.  I snipped off this Lady's Mantle's blossoms dragged down by the rain and also partially brown.  This is also a great time to prune your plants.  Notice the Lady's Mantle leaves are crowding the red funnel planted with a geranium.  I like to prune plants that are crowding their neighbors.  With my cottage garden style, crowding is a common thing.  
Deadheading Perennials
These dianthus during their bloom period (top photo), looked terrible after they were done blooming.  A little haircut keeps the garden tidy.
That's the beauty (the after photos) and the bane (the woe of snipping or pinching all those blossoms) of deadheading.
How about you?  Are you a deadheader?

Thanks for reading my blog, Carlene

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  1. I am definitely a deadheader. I have a love/hate relationship with annual geraniums because they need to be constantly deadheaded, but they are so beautiful when I keep on top of it. Also petunias and marigolds, just to mention a few others. Most of the time I enjoy it.

  2. Thanks for the advice along with the pictures. I need all the help I can get.

  3. I am and I love it. I don't do my petunias tho. I didn't know those little yellow flowers are 'bidens' but I really love them and pop the little dead flowers off as well. I love my cosmos all deheaded because they can look really lousy if I don't.
    Found you on Pinterest.
    peace n abundance,

  4. I'm continually dead heading my plants. Yes, even the ones that "don't require it". You're so right that they just look better that way!
    Love the terra cotta pot idea! May have to use that one.

    Jeannine @ The Concrete Cottage

  5. Thanks for the info. I do try to deadhead but sometimes there's so many, I give out before I finish.

  6. I know the importance of deadheading, but do not always get around to doing it. Thanks for the "push" to get it done.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  7. I'm a deadheader too! For inspiration, I often pull out my copy of Tracy D'Sabato's "A Well Tended Perennial Garden" and check out what needs to be done next.

  8. I love my petunia's but I do have to dead head constantly. They are pretty high maintenance but they do hold up to the heat and humidity like no other flower. Dead heading is a must!!!

  9. My name is Melissa and I am a deadheader. Until fall when I let things go to seed for the birds. :)

  10. I spend the morning deadheading. Sometimes you just have to cut flowers back to get a fresh bloom. I just severely cut back all my Alyssum. Each little plant grew over a foot in diameter and was full of flowers so it was hard to do. What I had left was about 4 - 6 inches in diameter and very green and healthy. In no time it will reflower and look even better.

  11. I'm always deadheading my flowers as well as feeding once a week to make sure they keep blooming. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I am glad to hear I am not alone. I find it extremely relaxing. I had no idea that there are non-deadheading plants but I will be on the lookout now. I did some major deadheading yesterday, it has been over 100 for over 2 weeks so I had a lot of spent blooms.
    Great post.

  13. I try!! Petunias are the most time consuming!

  14. Thanks for the pics and detailed explanations! Question, after deadheading knockout roses and petunias, the ends of stems where deadheading occurred becomes dried and blackened. Will they still rebloom with continued watering? Thanks. Pam


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