If you shudder when you hear the word “deadheading,” you are not alone. Many gardeners dislike it on first hearing. It sounds too violent to describe anything they would do to their favorite flowering plants. Yet deadheading—or snipping off blossoms as they fade and die—can help extend their bloom period. It’s not advised for every plant, but many species benefit from this pruning.
Why You Should Deadhead
A flower’s first duty is to its species, and it will try mightily to produce seeds. An annual’s entire “to-do” list runs like this: grow, flower, produce seeds, and die. Once seeding is over, its life work is done. As a gardener, you have another agenda for your plants. You want them to flower longer, making your garden beautiful. Dead flowers can be interesting, but they are generally not gorgeous in the same way roses are. In fact, plants with dead blossoms make a landscape less attractive.
Annuals bloom once, then die, if left to their own devices. Clipping off the dying blossom often results in another round of flowers. On perennial and biennial plants, deadheading fading flowers prolongs the bloom time. Not every plant is a good candidate for deadheading. Since flower clipping prevents fruiting, it’s obviously a bad idea to deadhead berry or fruit producing plants.
Here are the top 10 plants you definitely want to deadhead.
Many annuals respond well to deadheading. You can deadhead annual plants like: Cut back the long stems of alyssum, lobelia and cosmos to promote new flowers and keep them looking their best. When your lobelia blossoms fade and die, prune them off too. At the same time, take off about half of their stems.
How about deadheading perennials? When you snip off the dying blossoms of perennials, you often prolong their flowering period. You can get additional blooming when you deadhead:
Of course, there are many more annual and perennials you can deadhead.