Everyone needs a haircut at some point, and so do our plants! Deadheading is when you prune (or cut) seed heads and dying parts off a plant. This helps encourage the plant to send energy to the new growth. Deadheading is something every gardener should do for a healthy garden.
Plus, you can use the deadheaded flowers for your compost! We’re going to show you how to properly deadhead a plant, along with when to do it (and when not to). Following these steps will help ensure your garden is full of fresh happy faces for longer.
When Should I Deadhead?
You can deadhead your plants almost all year round. Just avoid doing so in the winter. Plants tend to be more dormant in the winter, so there isn’t much energy available in the plant to maintain itself and push out new growth during the season. Come springtime, you’re good to go.
Deadheading after a big rain is a great idea as well. If a storm destroys some flowers, remove them so the plant can grow more new happy faces. Additionally, the extra moisture from the rain helps the plant with the recovery process after pruning.
Once you notice a flower starting to lose life, it’s time to deadhead. Don’t wait for the flower to completely die- it’s better to redirect the plant’s energy to new growth. If you spend a few minutes every week deadheading, you can stay on top of all your plant babies’ haircuts.
Not Every Plant Should Be Deadheaded
Although most plants love a regular stop at the barber shop, others don’t. It’s important to know which plants you own that need it and which plants you should avoid deadheading. There are a few different reasons why you would not want to deadhead your plants, such as general health, self-seeders, and time of year. Doing so could mean the end of your plant’s life. Let’s try to avoid that!
If your plant is generally stressed, it might not be a good idea to deadhead. Try to get your plant to a healthier state before deadheading. Deadheading can be stressful for plants initially, so if they’re already stressed, that could be more stress than the plant can handle.
Other plants like Columbines are self-seeders, so they shouldn’t be deadheaded. If you do, they won’t be able to drop seeds and come back next year. Some plants to avoid deadheading are:
- Cardinal Flower
TIME OF YEAR
Also, it’s not a good idea to deadhead in the winter. Your plant is sleeping and doesn’t want to be woken up! (You wouldn’t either!) It’s best to start regular deadheading after the first bloom and keep it up throughout the year. Deadheading an entire plant can be catastrophic so do it in small doses.
how to deadhead plants
Ready to get snipping?! Once you’ve determined it’s the right time and the right plant to deadhead, you’re set to start. First, make sure your hands or scissors are clean and dry. Sanitize and dry your hands as well as the scissors. If they’re dishwasher safe, you can throw them in for a load. We want to encourage new growth and not spread any diseases.
Once you’re all washed and dried up, grab your tools and head to the garden. Find any flowers that are on the decline, then either pinch them with your fingers or cut them off the stem directly behind the head. Don’t remove too many flowers from a plant at once! Focus on the worst-looking heads first.
If you don’t like the stem sticking out, you can cut it down to the base, but it will need time to grow back first before it flowers again. For larger plants, such as roses, petunias, and daisies, try deadheading in sections. It’s easier on the plant that way and can encourage more regular growth.
Deadheading- the ultimate "win-win"
Structuring deadheading into your regular gardening schedule will bring new life to your plants (literally)! It can be a very relaxing task and is good for building compost! We love a win-win.
Be sure to note if your specific plant shouldn’t be deadheaded first, as not every plant should be deadheaded. But those that do will thank you with fresh new happy faces all year long.
If deadheading, and garden care in general isn’t for you, contact our personalized gardening team!
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