Tips For Deadheading Flowers: Roses, Petunias, Geraniums And Why You Should

Have you ever heard of the term “deadhead”? No, we’re not talking about the diehard fans of the band “The Grateful Dead.” So what is deadheading then?

Deadheading flowers is a gardening task that keeps your garden tidy and promotes more abundant blooms. To deadhead a plant, you simply remove spent flowers by pinching them off or trimming them using hand pruners or scissors. The Felco #2 pruners are our favorite, I’ve been using them for over 35 years!

After blooming, plants naturally begin to use energy for seed production. By deadheading plants, they will direct this energy into creating new flowers instead of seeds.

Regular deadheading flowers on annuals and perennials extends the blooming season and can help to prevent disease and pest infestation.

deadheading flowers on rose bushes with Felco pruners

If nothing else, deadheading spent flower stalks and buds keeps your garden looking pretty longer. In this article, we will discuss deadheading in general and provide some tips to help you perform this task correctly with a variety of plants. Read on to learn more.

Deadheading Flowers: How To

Although the concept of deadheading is the same from plant to plant, the technique differs from one type of plant to the next.

For example, if you have a plant with clusters of very small flowers, wait until the whole cluster dies back before snipping it off. When removing the cluster, use very sharp scissors or pruners to cut the stem off cleanly about one fourth inch from the base of the stem.

Deadhead individual flowers of plants such as the purple coneflower,  marigolds or daisies that produce single flowers. Again, cut them off near the base of the stem close to the main plant stem.

Cut stems back entirely to the base on larger stem variety plants which produce several individual blossoms once flowers begin to fade.

Should You Pinch Or Snip?

Your method of deadheading usually depends upon the plant. For plants such as roses, scissors or hand pruners are more practical and a better choice in terms of the health of the plant. When deadheading roses, use very sharp pruning shears and cut the spent blossoms away at a 45 degree angle.

Using your thumb and forefinger pinch back the non-ornamental flowers on plants on such as coleus. This preferred method of pinching off the small flowers of a foliage plant such as coleus, encouraging the plant to produce more abundant leaves.

How Often Should You Deadhead?

As a general rule of thumb, weekly deadheading is a good idea. This small task produces tremendous rewards helping your garden look much more vibrant overall. When deadheading on a regular basis you can enjoy an extended blooming season and healthier, more abundant plant growth.

How To Deadhead Roses – Two Simple Steps

  1. Use a sharp pruning tool like these classics to cut off faded flowers.
  2. Position the cut directly below the bloom and above the first set of leaves. Cut at the abscission layer, the small, swollen section of stem just below the bloom. The location where you’ll normally find the first leaflet and where the rose hip is shed. As noted above, make a clean cut at a 45 degree angle.

That’s it! You may find lots of articles they give you an incredible amount of complicated and confusing instructions involving counting leaves and breaking out the Crazy Glue, but all of that is fairly well unnecessary.

This simple two-step method is effective for all large flowered roses. Using this method helps retain the maximum amount of foliage, and the most recent studies have made it clear that more foliage encourages more flower growth.

You should note that if you like the appearance of rosehips and/or you use rosehips in herbal concoctions you will not want to deadhead your roses.

Tips On How To Deadhead Petunias

Deadheading petunias stops them from going to seed and helps them to look their best throughout the growing and blooming season. To deadhead your petunias effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Examine your petunias weekly looking for dropping and wilting flowers and for flowers beginning to form seedpods.
  2. Pinch the stem just below the wilted flower or seed head (approximately a quarter to a half inch below) pinch the seed pod or spent flower off sharply and toss it into your compost pile.
  3. Around the middle of the blooming season deadhead the whole plant – even the blossoms not spent. It’s also a good time to prune back your petunia to prevent it from looking overgrown and leggy. Trim back the entire plant by 3 to 5 inches. This may seem a bit dramatic, but when you do this your petunia plant will reward you by returning to full bloom in just a couple of weeks.

Tips On How To Deadhead Geraniums

  1. Geranium flowers grow in clusters, wait until the entire cluster begins wilting and deadhead it all at once. However, you can pick off individual spent flowers to keep your plant looking more attractive.
  2. When the entire flower cluster is spent, locate the thin stem holding the flower head and follow it to its base.
  3. With your fingertips, snap the thin flower stem off from the thicker plant stem. Just push the thin stem’s base downward to break it away. If you prefer, use very sharp scissors or pruners to snip the thin stem a quarter inch above the thick plant stem.
  4. Completely remove the spent geranium flowers and stems from the parent plant. Don’t allow them to lie around on the ground at the base of the plant because this will tend to encourage fungal growth. Dispose of them properly in your trash or compost bin.

Encourage Vibrant Blooms With Regular Deadheading

How can you keep your garden and plant life attractive and healthy? Cultivate a weekly habit of trimming away spent flowers and tidying up your flowerbeds, containers and potted plants.

Make deadheading a part of your regular plant care. Invest in a quality pair of pruners like the Felco #2 pruner and you’ll enjoy the many benefits with this simple bit of maintenance. Follow the advice presented here for beautiful, healthy flowering plants.

Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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