I'm a DEAD-HEADER
Let me explain
What pretty flowers contain
Seeds that will deprive the plant of feed
Trouble from the head
Can be trouble left behind
If you choose to deadhead from time to time
If you choose to deadhead from tiiime to tiiiimmme…
Ooooohh, that was so cheezy, sorry! Now that I got the corny joke out of the way, lets talk about how to keep your flowering plants beautiful all season long. It’s usually just after The Summer Solstice that I notice my garden getting a little bit “hairy”, that’s when I know it’s time to cut back some growth and do some pinching. Deadheading is the practice of pinching off flower heads or cutting back flower spikes which forces the plant to produce more flowers. So why does cutting off a flower head make the plant grow another flower? Good question! Because the intention of the plant is to assure it’s return (whether it’s an annual or a perennial) and it really just wants to do nothing more than produce seeds. When you let the plant go without deadheading, the plant will put all its energy towards producing the seed. If you stop that seed growth by pinching off the flower, the plant will put energy back into producing another flower. The positive side to deadheading is of course new growth which can be enjoyed well into the Fall, and a stronger plant. Is there a downside? Well there could be if you are a seed collector like myself. When it comes to deadheading, I am a little bit skeptical of wiping out all of the flowers that are producing seeds from the first growth. From the start, I always leave a couple of heads to go brown and produce seed, when the time is right I will collect the seed head or let it fall to the ground to assure re-seeding.
So what plants are good to deadhead? And how do you do it? Typically your annuals, the ones that you may purchase each year for your flower pots. For these you want to “Pinch” off spent flowers. Petunia and Geranium flowers are examples, pinching them daily will keep your potted masterpiece looking great. Garden flowers such as Zinnias, Cosmos, Marigolds and Bachelor Buttons also benefit from pinching or pruning. Each of these flowers produce alot of flower heads resulting in seeds galore. So make sure you let some flower heads mature for collecting or self-seeding. Roses are another plant that benefits from deadheading by pinching off the flower.
The washed-out flower heads are ready for pinching
Zinnias really benefit from a good deadheading, snip head off about 3/4's of the way down to the first leaves you get to, this will allow new blooms to sprout from the leaf base or lower on the stem.
Are there herbs that can be deadheaded? Sure, lots of them. The following herbs are ones that I will carefully harvest by cutting stem and all, and others that I will trim like a bush.
Not all plants can be deadheaded. For the benefit of your garden, make sure you do your research on each of your plants and the proper technique to use. Once you are familiar with the process and devote your time, your garden will surely be most...
Grateful that you Deadhead!
Acknowledgment- Many thanks to the Greatful Dead logo, and apologies for the corny humor.
References: RD Home Handbooks –HERBS By Lesley Bremness