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.
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.
The 20 Best Annuals To Deadhead For MORE Blooms
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.
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.
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.
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.
Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) produces gorgeous clusters of vanilla-scented blooms in shades of white, lavender, and purple from early spring and into autumn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Short Stuff
Zinnias do well in the garden or as container plants in moist, well-draining soil and full sun.
Cheery, rounded blooms in shades of:
…brighten your garden from May through September.
Scarlet Sage (Salvia splendens) is a well-branched, stocky plant that produces stunning flower spikes in shades of:
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.
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
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 (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.
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.
African Marigold (Tagetes erecta) is available in several cultivars, including:
- Moonsong Deep Orange
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.
Cleome (Cleome hassleriana) is a graceful, airy plant that produces pretty foliage, interesting flowers and attractive seed pods on very tall stems.
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.
Geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum) is a very popular container and bedding plant. There are many different variations in both leaves and blossoms available.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The blowsy, sweet-smelling flowers bloom from May to October in colors including, but not limited to:
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.
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
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:
A collection consisting of these plants and some self deadheading annuals makes for a colorful and carefree garden all summer long.