Deadhead These Annuals For Blooms Spring to Frost

In the springtime and early summer, you can expect to see lots of beautiful blooms throughout your garden. As the summer winds down, blooms are fewer and further between, but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

There are many beautiful annual flowering plants that will bloom from springtime into early autumn with the proper care. 

Bright Orange Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower)
Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) | fotokon – DepositPhotos

In this article, we describe the technique of deadheading your annuals to extend the blooming season.

We also share recommendations on choosing the right annuals to maximize blooms. Read on to learn more.

What Is Deadheading?

Deadheading is the process of removing spent or nearly spent blooms to encourage new blooms to form.

Deadheading works because when you remove blossoms before they go to seed, the plant wants to make more blossoms in the hope of producing seeds and furthering its DNA. 

Of course, the plant does not go through any sort of thought process and doesn’t have actual hopes, but the purpose of flowers is reproduction. When you interrupt that process, the plant persists in finding a way to reproduce. 

Because annuals only live for a year, this means creating more blossoms, which will potentially go to seed and grow into new plants.

What Do You Have To Do To Deadhead Annuals?

There are several different techniques for deadheading, depending upon what type of plant you’re dealing with. 

With plants that have tender stems, you can just pinch off spent flowers with your fingertips.

If you are deadheading a plant that has stiff, woody stems, you’ll use hand pruners and cut below the head of the flower at the top set of stems or leaves.

Plants that have lots of tiny blossoms all over can just be sheared occasionally.

Deadheading Annuals

The 20 Best Annuals To Deadhead For MORE Blooms

Coreopsis

Calliopsis (Coreopsis) is a wildflower native to the eastern and central United States. The plant may grow to be two or three feet high and produces pretty, yellow blooms with rusty central disks from June through September. 

Flowering Coreopsis

These plants are easy to grow in well draining soil and full sun. They do well in poor soil and are deer and drought tolerant. Calliopsis is very attractive to pollinators and is an excellent choice for a natural, meadow garden. 

Read More: Coreopsis Flower Care – Growing Coreopsis In Your Landscape

Mexican Sunflower 

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) grows naturally in Central America and Mexico. These enthusiastic plants grow to be between four and six feet high, and the bright orange blooms can be up to three inches across. 

Tithonia Mexican Sunflower

Plants bloom from July through September and are very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. These sunflowers tolerate poor soil as long as it is well-draining. They need full sun to thrive. 

Read More: Mexican Sunflower Care – How To Grow Torch Tithonia Plants

Heliotrope

Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) produces gorgeous clusters of vanilla-scented blooms in shades of white, lavender, and purple from early spring and into autumn. 

Fragrant Cherry pie heliotrope

Plant in rich, light, loamy, well-draining soil in a setting that receives a minimum of six hours of direct sun daily. These plants are heavy feeders, so water and fertilize consistently using a fertilizer high in phosphorous. 

Read More: Heliotropium Arborescens Care – Learn To Grow Heliotrope Plants 

Cosmos

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) is a tall, pretty, sun-loving plant that grows between one and two feet high. This tender annual is an excellent addition to a bird or butterfly garden, cutting garden, or naturalized meadow setting. 

cosmos blooms attractive annual flowers for color

Blowsy flowers in shades of white, yellow, pink, and red bloom abundantly from June to October. Plant in full sun and well-draining soil. This easy-to-grow plant prefers poor soil and germinates readily when seeds are sown directly into the garden bed in early spring. 

Read More: Cosmos Flower Care – Growing The Cosmos Plant

Klondike Cosmos

Klondike (Cosmos sulphureus) may grow to be six feet high. The impressive plant produces abundant numbers of semi-double and double blooms in bright shades of yellow, red, and orange from early summer until the first frost. 

These plants do well in partial sun to the full sun setting. They must receive at least half a day of direct sunlight to thrive. 

Read More:

https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/cosmos-sulphureus/

Gaillardia

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella) is an attractive wildflower that produces pretty, daisy-like flowers in shades of red and yellow from early spring through mid-autumn. 

Gaillardia Flower aka Blanket Flower

These wildflowers are suited as a meadow flower in a natural setting or in your flowerbed. Plants grow to be between one and three feet high and do well in poor soil with little water. 

They grow readily from seed sown directly into the soil early in spring, and they will reseed themselves. 

Read More: Gaillardia Plant – Blanket Flower Growing and Care

Zinnia

Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) is the shortest variety of Zinnia, ranging in height from eight to twelve inches. Popular Zinnia elegans varieties to look for include: 

  • Thumbelina
  • Dreamland
  • Short Stuff
  • Magellan

Zinnias do well in the garden or as container plants in moist, well-draining soil and full sun. 

Cheery, rounded blooms in shades of:

  • Lavender
  • Yellow
  • White
  • Green
  • Pink
  • Red

…brighten your garden from May through September. 

Read More: Zinnia Flowers – Caring For Zinnia Plants And It’s Many Uses

Salvia Splendens

Scarlet Sage (Salvia splendens) is a well-branched, stocky plant that produces stunning flower spikes in shades of: 

  • Lavender
  • Bi-color
  • Salmon
  • Purple
  • White
  • Pink
  • Red
Red blooms of the Scarlet Sage (Salvia Splendens)

The plant blooms from May through September. In addition to gorgeous flowers, you’ll enjoy the glossy, deep green foliage. Plants grow to be one or two feet high. 

This Salvia does well in rich, moist, well-draining soil in a full sun location. Be advised that these plants are heavy feeders and need to be fertilized regularly. 

Read More: Scarlet Sage Care – Tips On Growing Salvia Splendens In The Garden

Salvia Farinacea

Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea) is a taller variety of Salvia which grows to a height of two or three feet. There are three varieties of Mealycup Salvia: 

  • Victoria Series
  • Fairy Queen
  • Evolution

All three do well in a very hot, dry setting. This type of Salvia is a good choice as in your pollinator garden and/or your cutting garden. 

The white, blue, and bi-color flowers bloom from May through October. They do well as dried or cut flowers. 

Snapdragon

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) is a classic, old-fashioned floral favorite that can be planted in early spring or late in the autumn for early spring bloom in shades of white, yellow, pink, purple, red and bi-color. Plants bloom from May through October. 

colorful snapdragon plants in full flower

There are many different cultivars with heights ranging from six inches to three feet. 

There are tall, erect varieties that do well in cutting gardens and trailing varieties that can be used for hanging baskets or tumbling over a garden wall. 

Plant snapdragons in moist, well-draining soil with a slightly alkaline pH level. They do well in light shade to full sun. 

Read More: Growing Snapdragon Plants – How To Care For Snapdragon Flowers

African Marigold

African Marigold (Tagetes erecta) is available in several cultivars, including: 

  • Moonsong Deep Orange
  • Moonstruck
  • Discovery
  • Taishan
  • Antigua
  • Vanilla
Marigold - Tagetes erecta

These dependable garden flowers may grow to be between one and three feet high. The plant does well in moist, well-draining soil and full sun. 

Marigolds produce abundant blooms in shades of white, yellow, and orange from May through October. 

Marigolds of all sorts are an excellent addition to your vegetable garden as they hold natural, pest repelling qualities, yet they are attractive to butterflies. 

Read More: Marigold Plant Care – Growing Marigold Flowers

Cleome

Cleome (Cleome hassleriana) is a graceful, airy plant that produces pretty foliage, interesting flowers and attractive seed pods on very tall stems. 

Cleome plant bloom Spider flower

These plants attain heights ranging from eighteen inches to five feet. They do well as back border plants or even as a low, summertime hedge. The flowers are very attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators. 

Plant in moist, well-draining soil in a full sun setting. Deadhead regularly to enjoy the pretty white, pink, and lavender blooms from June through October.

 If you wish the plant to reseed, allow the last blooms in October to go to seed. 

Read More: Cleome Plant Care – How To Grow The Spider Flower

Geranium

Geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum) is a very popular container and bedding plant. There are many different variations in both leaves and blossoms available. 

Red Geranium Flowers

Typical flower colors include white, pink, salmon, red and bi-color variations, but there are many different Geranium cultivars, and the choices in bloom colors are nearly endless. 

Geraniums do well in partial to full sun. They like fertile, moist, well-draining soil. 

Although Geraniums are most often grown as annuals, they can be brought indoors and kept as house plants through the winter, or overwintered in a dormant state in a cool basement or garage through the winter. 

Read More: Geranium Care – How To Grow Geranium Plants

https://ag.umass.edu/greenhouse-floriculture/fact-sheets/growing-geraniums

Floribunda Geranium

Floribunda Geraniums are a class of Geranium that bears smaller blooms in greater quantity. 

These plants tend to grow low to the ground and make a nice flowering ground cover in very hot, sunny settings. These plants cannot be kept in a dormant state during the winter months. 

Lantana

Lantana (Lantana camara) is available in several forms ranging from upright to trailing varieties. Depending upon the variety chosen, Lantana may grow to be one or two feet high. Plant in well-draining soil in a full sun setting. 

Lantana flowers and care

This hardy plant produces abundant blooms in a wide variety of colors from June through October. The flowers are very attractive to butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators. 

Lantana can become invasive in a conducive setting. If it grows too large, it can be pruned back vigorously without harming the plant. 

Read More: Lantana Plant Care – How To Grow Lantana Bush, Trees

Begonia

Begonia (Begonia sp.) is a classic addition to the summer garden. This tall, attractive plant does well both as a bedding plant and in containers. Place in shade or partial sun, in moist, well-drained soil. 

Begonia Hanging Baskets

Begonias grow to be 15″-18″ inches high. In addition to their abundant blooms in shades of pink and red, they present attractive foliage in shades ranging from deep green to bronze, depending upon the cultivar you choose. Begonias bloom from May to October. 

Read More: Begonia Hanging Baskets – Growing And Care Of Hanging Begonias

Lobelia

Lobelia (Lobelia erinus) is a low-growing plant (6″-12″ inches high) that makes a nice addition to rock gardens, hanging baskets, and containers. It is also well suited as an edging or border plant. 

Blue flowers of edging lobelias

These plants do well in moist, well-draining soil in a shady, partially sunny or full sun setting. This small, versatile plant produces attractive blooms in shades of white, blue, purple and/or bi-colored from June through October. 

Read More: Lobelia Erinus – Tips For Growing Edging Lobelias The Laguna Flower

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) is a hardy annual that is used as an edging plant in situations where lots of flowers are required. It does well as a filler between tall plants and as a decorative addition between pavers in your walkway. 

beautiful sweet alyssum blooms in purple

This small plant grows to be 3″-6″ inches high and does well in shade, partial sun, or full sun, in moist, well-draining soil. The tiny blossoms in shades of white, yellow, pink, and purple bloom from June through October. 

Read More: Sweet Alyssum – Growing And Caring For Lobularia Maritima

Verbena

Verbena (Verbena x hybrida) is a small, hardy annual that attains a height of 6″-14″ inches. Plant Verbena in full sun and well-draining soil. This compact, drought-resistant plant is suitable for xeriscaping and/or as a groundcover. 

Annual flowers of the Verbena plant, good for ground cover.

Pretty, star-shaped blooms in shades of white, peach, salmon, red and multicolored grow in clusters at the ends of the plants’ branches. Verbena blooms from May through October. 

Read More: Verbena Plant Care – How To Grow The Verbena Flower

Petunia

Petunia (Petunia x hybrida) is a beautiful, splashy, surprisingly easy to grow plant available in a wide variety of cultivars and colors. Depending upon the cultivar, expect growth ranging from six inches to three feet. 

Colorful flowers of the Petunia

The blowsy, sweet-smelling flowers bloom from May to October in colors including, but not limited to:

  • Lavender
  • Salmon
  • Bi-color
  • Purple
  • Yellow
  • White
  • Pink
  • Red

Plant in light, well-draining soil in a full sun setting. Depending upon the cultivar, Petunias are suited as bedding plants, in containers, pots, and hanging baskets. 

The final three in the list above are also available in self-deadheading varieties. In fact, many annuals are now being bred to deadhead themselves.

Read More: Petunia Care: How To Grow and Keep Petunia Flowers 

What Are the Benefits of Self Deadheading Annuals?

When your flowers deadhead themselves, it saves you a great deal of time. If you are a gardener who spends a lot of time away or one who simply wants to enjoy the beauty of the garden without a burden of chores, choosing self deadheading annuals is a great idea. Here are some of the current favorites:

  • Snow Princess Sweet Alyssum
  • Diamond Frost Euphorbia
  • Laguna and Lucia Lobelia
  • Superbells Calibrachoa
  • Supertunia Petunia
  • Superbena Verbena
  • Snowstorm Bacopa
  • Artist Ageratum
  • Wave Petunia
  • Impatiens
  • Bidens

New self dead-heading cultivars are being developed every day. 

Choose the Annuals That Are Right for Your Gardening Style

If you want a very easy and carefree garden, naturally you would go with self deadheading plants. If you dislike a lot of little fiddly work, but do like puttering around your garden, you might go for annuals that do well when sheared rather than those that need blossoms plucked or cut one at a time. 

This is a good option if you plan to go away on holiday. You can shear your plants before you leave and find them in full bloom when you return.

Deadheading Annuals Part 2

Some of the best choices in those that respond well to shearing are:

  • Impatiens
  • Marigold
  • Petunias
  • Zinnias
  • Salvias

A collection consisting of these plants and some self deadheading annuals makes for a colorful and carefree garden all summer long.

Sources: 1 | 2

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