There are plenty of plant care techniques that help growers yield greater gains, like wiring and “screen of green” netting that help plants grow higher and reach more sun. And of course there’s pruning, which involves cutting a plant to size to promote new, fuller growth. But a similar process is called “deadheading,” and it uses cutting to encourage increased (and longer) blooming in flowers. Here’s how to deadhead your flowers for better blooms.
What is deadheading?
When a plant blooms flowers, it expels a massive amount of energy into producing its seeds, and less into new leaves for new blooms. Deadheading removes the dying (or dead) flowers and seed pod to redirect the plants’ energy and focus to its fresh buds. Getting rid of the expired pod signals the plant to produce more leaves and blooms for the season.
What flowers to deadhead, and when to do it
Deadheading works best on annual flowers because they bloom one time out of the year, and then need to be replanted for the following season. Cutting off the dead ends will help them bloom fuller and longer, so you can enjoy the beautiful flowers for their full bloom season. At the same time, deadheading perennial flowers diverts energy to the parent plant for greater yields once they return the following season.
When to start clipping your flowers depends on the type of plant, but generally, deadheading can begin as soon as you see a flower fade. This dying flower means the plant is working overtime to get that flower to seed before it dies, and all of that energy could be spent on new growth. This process can happen for the duration of the growing season as long as you want to see the flowers bloom.
Household product supplier Fiskars recommends leaving some flowers on a bit longer to provide nutrients for wildlife (plus some still look pretty even when they’re on their way out). For flowers with multiple bulbs on one stem, you’ll want to wait until 70% of the flowers are dead before giving it the chop.
How to deadhead flowers
Most flowers can be deadheaded using two fingers to snap off the dead head just before the green leaves below. You want to be careful not to snap off new buds though, because those are the flowers you will soon enjoy once the dead ones are gone. Of course, some plant stems are more rigid and too tough for just two fingers, so you’ll need gardening shears to cut the withered flowers at the nearest leaf base for tougher plants. Continue this process for the whole garden, making sure to snap or cut off the entire dead seed pod and not just the dead petals to ensure the plant’s energy is focused on the new buds.