Blooms, blooms, and more blooms! Not all plants rebloom, but new cultivars are coming out every day that allows many perennials and shrubs to have a second wave of flowering! Many plants rebloom without all the selective breeding, but they just need a bit of help from you.
Deadheading is an easy chore that can be done while you are out admiring your garden anyway, but why is it so important and what plants benefit from this mindful garden task?
The entire purpose of flowers (botanically at least) is to make seeds - the next generation and the main source of their ability to spread themselves around. These terrestrial plants are landlocked but through seed dispersal, they can spread their progeny far and wide!
But seeds take LOTS of energy to create, sapping the plant of the energy needed to keep blooming - so they don’t bother once seeds form! Plus, they can trigger the plant to think it is done for the growing season altogether.
For annuals, that means they’re done and begin to die as soon as those seeds form. For perennials, they will only have the first flush of flowers that spring or summer, and not have repeat bloom waves for the remainder of the growing season.
But just a few simple snips while out smelling the Roses is all it takes to keep those blooms popping!
By interrupting the triggers that going to seed have on your plants, your plant will continue to keep trying - pumping out wave after wave of bloom! This keeps the energy going back into your plant for more flowers and not going toward seeds. Tricking the plant into believing it hasn’t fulfilled its main purpose in life, keeps it blooming to produce seed for the next generation.
Not to mention, snipping off the ’dead heads’ on the plant keeps your landscape neater, and keeps your plant tidy and full of blooms!
Deadheading is just as it sounds - removing the dead or fading flowers from a plant. But there is a proper way to do this so you avoid damaging the plant.
Are you supposed to cut dead flowers off? Yes!
Even if you deadhead a plant that won’t rebloom, you will still clean up the appearance of your plant significantly! So cleaning away dead flowers refreshes the entire look of your plant!
Most annual flowers (Cosmos, Petunias, Zinnias, and Marigolds, etc.) as well as many perennial plants continue to bloom throughout the growing season as long as you methodically remove the spent blooms!
All perennials look better without dead, brown blooms, but some keep blooming after their haircuts! They may take some weeks to rebloom in flushes, or you’ll enjoy sporadic new flowers popping up from the mound.
Once their first flush of blooms are done, you can even lop back your plants evenly by half to double the branching/stems and stimulate a new wave of bloom. This also gives you a perfectly even starting point for the new flowers, creating a tidy, rounded form. Plus, you can prevent some diseases from occurring from those old bloom petals dropping to the ground beneath the plants!
Deadhead almost all flowering shrubs after the flowers fade for a clean and tidy appearance. The only exceptions are a few Shrubs that need to be pruned in the early spring/fall, and except for plants that produce fruits after the bloom that will be showy in summer, fall, and winter!
Again, not all flowering shrubs will rebloom after deadheading or being shearing, but you’ll always improve how they look for the rest of the year.
In addition to plants that self-seed or can take over the garden, or have seed pods or browned blooms that take away from the overall appearance of your shrub (Bridal Wreath Spirea we’re looking at you!).
Pinching back is just as it sounds and is usually used when maintaining annuals. With or without scissors/pruners, annuals easily can have their tender spent blooms pinched away - removing them back to the first set of leaves or back to a new fresh bud.
Pinching back also can be done on young annuals and perennials before they are blooming to encourage branching and fullness. Many plants can start getting leggy as the season wears on. Pinching back Basil, Flowering Annuals, and mounding perennials such as Sedum increases branching by forcing each stem to split into two or more new shoots. Remember to try to pinch back early in the season on perennials and annuals, that way you don’t interrupt the bloom altogether.
Deadheading may be a bit more involved and usually needs scissors/pruners/shears to cut back the stems to a fresh new bud, a leaf junction, or back to where you see new leaves/branches forming at a leaf junction (node). Most of these plants have woody stems and need sharp pruners. Many shrubs and bushier perennials also benefit from pinching back to increase branching and therefore increase blooming!
Unless you want fruit and/or seeds for yourself or for the birds/wildlife, go ahead and deadhead. However, for many fruiting plants and plants with nuts/seeds that you want to harvest, or for seeds that you want to save for sowing next year, you’ll remove those while pruning.
Plants like Coneflower and Sedum produce food for fall and winter birds, and many wildflower types of blooms freely self-seed all on their own. In naturalized settings and bird-friendly plantings, deadhead after the first flush, then let the second wave of blooms go to seed so they mature in time for you and your feathered friends!
Again, avoid pruning, shearing, deadheading, or pinching back certain fruiting and flowering Shrubs that need to be pruned in the early spring/fall, and plants that produce fruit.
Other plants have ornamental seedpods that add to fall and winter interest, or can be added to your winter décor! Also, once the weather (nights) begins to cool down significantly, many plants are already slowing down for the season anyway as soil/air temperatures drop. You usually won’t see a new wave of blooms unless you have an extended fall with mild temperatures, or live in a frost-free climate.
Promote blooms all growing season and double your garden enjoyment! More blooms for color, for pollinators, for cut flower arrangements, and for curb appeal! It all comes down to a daily meditative practice of getting outside with the morning cup of joe and a pair of scissors each day!
Nature Hills #ProPlantTips and Garden Blog are here to help you squeeze every ounce of enjoyment from your landscape with tips and tricks that make your life easier and landscape healthier!