Deadheading is the art of removing spent flowers from a plant in order to achieve a few different things. The main idea behind deadheading is to stimulate more flowers. By pinching off the old flowers, it helps to stimulate new growth and that means more flowers.
Some plants like Coleus, need a simple removal of the spent flower, where others, like the geranium, or the Hosta flower, may need removal of the spent flower as well as the stalk on which it’s growing. This process is used on both annuals and perennials.
Deadheading is also similar to pinching or pruning processes that helps keep plants more compact, rather than getting long and lanky. By removing the spent flowers and a bit of the stem below the flower, like with petunias, you’re encouraging a fuller plant, with more new growth, and in turn, more new flowers.
Deadheading also helps to eliminate the plants trying to go to seed, like with Daylilies and Hosta, which can take a lot out of the plant. Instead of producing seed heads, the energy can be sent to the plant and its foliage.
If you have coreopsis, a light shearing of spent flowers back into the foliage will help stimulate these plants to keep flowering all summer long, as well as keeping them nice and compact.
Deadheading is also a way to help stimulate a second flowering period from plants that may typically flower only once. Summer flowering Spirea and Catmint are good examples. Once they’re finished flowering, lightly shear off those spent flowers back into the foliage, and within a few weeks, a second flush of new growth will appear, along with new flowers.
And, as with some perennials and woody plants, even if deadheading doesn’t help stimulate more flowers, it definitely helps to keep your plants looking a lot nicer for the summer season. So, if you haven’t been a ‘deadheader’ this summer, it’s never too late to get started. Your flowering plants will be glad you did!
Couple more quick notes: Keep mowing the grass at a higher mower level (as needed), and get that mower blade sharpened, time to think about fall veggies like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts (plant transplants in late July / early August), as well as seeding lettuce, radishes, carrots, beets, turnips, kale and spinach, keep weeds out of landscape and flower beds as they become major competition for nutrients, water, and can harbor diseases and insects, keep fluffing the mulch to help prevent ‘the crusties’ (top of mulch gets wet and then bakes in the sun becoming hard and eventually impermeable to rainfall and watering!), hose off those Alberta spruce, and keep planting perennials in the garden for colors that just keep coming back year after year! Okay, one more: TAKE CARE OF THOSE EVERGREENS – Just a reminder of how important it is to keep your pines stress free as we go through these periods of heat and drought. When these plants become really stressed, they actually emit a chemical that is detected by bark beetles. Once they find the stressed tree, the beetles release their own chemical that lures in more bark beetles. Their extensive tunneling along with the tree already being stressed can cause eventual death to the tree. We’ve also seen the aftermath of evergreens not being watered during dry times (after the last 3 summers and last years summer / fall drought). Make sure you water those evergreens when it gets dry (and larger trees and shrubs, newly planted plants, etc.).