This might be a personal question but, do you deadhead? I don’t mean ARE you a deadhead. That is your own business and I do not need to know.
But what I do want to know is, do you take the time to cut the spent (i.e. dead) flowers off your plants?
I have asked a number of people this question and have received all sorts of answers. Most of the time the answer is “no” for a number of different reasons. Almost as often is the confused look followed by, “Do I what?” Maybe they are concerned I am asking the ARE you a deadhead question. Many of us are grateful we grew up before the age of smart phones and social media so that our past stays in the past.
Of seasoned gardeners, it seems most deadhead sometimes or selectively depending upon the plant. But I have met a few dedicated souls who will deadhead anything and everything including their neighbor’s plants if they get the chance.
Why deadhead? Think weed seeds.
Many of your flowering ornamentals (you know, the ones with the with showy flowers) produce flowers for a longer period of time if you remove the spent blooms. Remember, a plant’s whole purpose to exist, as far as the plant is concerned, is to reproduce. A properly pollinated flower will produce seed if left alone long enough. Those seeds will make new plants. Which is all well and good but if you put the plant in your garden to look at the pretty flowers, then seed production is probably irrelevant to you. In some cases, seed production is something you want to prevent because each of those seeds has the potential to produce a new plant. Those new plants we often call weeds.
Imagine one dandelion puffball blowing all dandelion those seeds around your yard. All those seeds from that one dandelion puffball came from only one dandelion flower. Now think about every flower that grows in your yard. Each of those flowers has the potential of producing seed which could grow into new plants… everywhere. OK, that sounds a lot more dire than it really is. But preventing the plant from making seeds by removing the fading flowers from the plant on plants that readily reseed (like petunias, chives, pansies, and many, many more) can save you a lot of work weeding later.
Why deadhead? Think more flowers.
If you remove a dying flower from your plant, that flower cannot produce seed. But the plant still wants to make seed because that is, for most plants, its one chance to reproduce. So many plants will grow more flowers to replace the ones you remove that didn’t have the chance to make seeds. The result is more flowers over a longer period of time. And that is a good thing.
How to deadhead.
Each plant has its own unique growing habit and therefore its own way of being deadheaded. For some plants like petunias, the dead flowers can easily be pinched off with your thumbnail. Dianthus pinches off easily also but it is often easier to dead head by using a small pair of clippers. Larger plants like Shasta Daisy and Roses should have the flowers removed by carefully clipping the stem just above a leaf node (the part of the stem where the leaves grow).
Come see us at Mingos Nursery & Garden Center and we will help you with all your deadheading questions.