Thursday, July 15, 2010


As summer is in full force, and our flowers and plants are hopefully thriving, it's especially important to be doing some important maintenance.
More specifically, deadheading.

I was at Lowe's a while back looking at what they still had going on in the garden section. I'll buy plants/flowers all season long if they're being sold somewhere. This time of year you can find some good buys on flowers. They probably need a little more special attention then when they're purchased early in the season, but for the money, you can't go wrong.

I was looking at some flowers that looked a little peak-id, and a lady next to me commented on how "beat-up" they looked. I mentioned a little deadheading would bring them right back to looking nice again.
"Deadheading?", she questioned.
So I briefly explained the benefits for deadheading. It occurred to me that maybe some of you might not be aware of those benefits of deadheading your flowers.

that is removing the spent, dead blooms from a plant.

Flowers and plants, as with anything in nature, have really one innate reason for being.
To reproduce.
Almost all plant's life cycle is to grow from seed, produce foliage, then flower which turn into seed pods, then die. Annuals, plants who complete this cycle in one season, greatly benefit the most from deadheading.

By deadheading, you can prolong the life of that plant longer, and have it produce more blooms for you to enjoy. You kind of "trick" the plant by encouraging new growth and, in turn, making more flowers.

See that droopy flower? Right below where the bloom is protruding, pinch with your nail or snip off with scissors.

As I walk around my gardens and my potted plants, I'm always deadheading. Pinching off those faded and spent blooms.

Petunias, especially, do really well to have regular deadheading, as do Geraniums.

On this Geranium, that whole flower stalk can go, or sometimes there'll be blooms at the bottom of that cluster that haven't opened. In that case, just pinch off the group of dead blooms on that stalk to allow the new ones to flourish.

Also, herbs are perfect candidates for deadheading. Unless it's an herb like Dill whose flowers and/or seeds are desired, keep those flowers cut back. In my herb garden, I make sure to constantly trim the flowers from Sage, Basil, Parsley and Mint to name a few. It want to keep those plants producing more of those delicious leaves I want for yummy dishes.

Those white flower stalks on the Basil up there will be snipped off. Same with the mint flower stalks below.

I try to keep my perennials, plants whose life cycle takes more than one season, deadheaded as much as possible as well. For these plants, deadheading keeps the total plant and it's roots healthy and strong by sending energy back into the plant instead of energy being expended into making seeds once the flowers fade. And it just makes the plant look better like the Lamb's Ear and Blanketflower (Gallardia) below.

Lamb's Ear before deadheading . . .

and after. Much better!

The early stage of the seed pod development of the Blanketflower plant do have an interesting look, but once they start to get "dried" up looking, they need to come off. Don't want the plant to think it's time to make seeds. I want more flowers!

Plants like the Thread Leaf Correopsis, below, do well with a "hair cut". Trimming back all those spent blooms with scissors will help encourage some new flowering before the season's over.

The Butterfly Flower will show more blooms if trimmed back, too.

Can you make out the new flower shoots? If I keep the spent flowers cut off, the plant will send more energy into developing those new shoots, and I'll get more blooms from this plant.

Another benefit to your flowers is fertilizer. Especially those in pots and flower boxes. Almost all plants we purchase have time-released fertilizer added by the commercial growers. Those plants we put in pots loose a lot of that fertilizer through normal waterings. Every time you water your potted plants, and the water drains through, it's pulling more and more nutrients from the soil.

I feed my plants once a week, on Fridays
- it's easy for me to remember Feeding Fridays LOL!!! -
with a general plant food. Depending on what you're feeding, however, can depend on what type of fertilizer you choose.

All fertilizers are comprised of the 3 components that have been deemed essential for plant growth.
Those are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium - those 3 numbers you always see on fertilizer ingredient listings.

Each nutrient helps the plant in it's own unique way.
Nitrogen is essential for vegetative or top growth.
Phosphorus produces flower buds, root and fruit development.
And lastly, Potassium is important for building strong, healthy plants.

For example, if you want your Petunias and Tomato plants to produce more flowers and fruit, use a fertilizer with a high middle number. Miracle Grow has a good variety of fertilizers. I also use one called "Bloom Booster" which my flowering plants really love. It's N-P-K formulation is 15-30-15.
If you're plants and flowering plants seem to be waning a bit now that we've hit the mid-summer point, try deadheading the spent flowers, and incorporating some fertilizer into regular waterings. It might not be too light to give them a little boost before summer's over.

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Kerin said...

Great post!
For the past two days, I have been deadheading, trimming, and giving all my plants a dose of miracle grow. Whew! It is a lot of work, but so worth it!!
Have a wonderful day :)

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

Yes great post! I am the Queen of Deadheading Geraniums. I never had much luck with petunias probably because I never deadheaded them! I thought all you had to do was pull out the wilting I guess I should be snapping it off at the base. I'll have to give them another try next year. And thanks for reminding me about fertilizing. It's probably time for a boost!

Paula said...

Nice post Carla...if I don't get outside and start deadheading soon I'm gonna be in trouble! Thanks for info on Fios, I'm seeing that northern De has it all over, they seem to have forgotten the bottom half of the state! Thanks for posting my giveaway up top too! You're a peach:)

Darlene said...

What a fabulous post!! Just this morning I was out in my rose garden clipping (deadheading) away! I was going to do a post about it (probably next week) but I now am going to do a short one and link to this post if that is okay with you. You explained everything so PERFECTLY!!!! ♥

marie said...

Great post Carla! Lots of good info that I needed. I appreciate all the time you put into this! Thank you!!

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