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How To Deadhead Flowers In The Garden

Deadheading to remove spent flowers and promote blooming

If you're wondering what is deadheading a plant and how does it keep your flowers blooming, the good news is that it is very easy. With a few basic guidelines, you should become an expert.

What Is Deadheading?

Deadheading refers to simply removing the dead flower heads from your plants. Not only does the process clean up a plant's appearance, but it also controls the spread of seeds and encourages your flowers and plants to continue to grow thicker and fuller than before. If performed on a regular basis, this basic garden task doesn't require much time or thought.

Why Deadhead Flowers?

A blossom's nectar and pollen provide forage to pollinators like bees, butterflies, beetles and birds. The plant itself may even provide a safe sanctuary and habitat for wildlife. And after your pretty blooms fade away, the fruits, berries and nuts that follow feed both wildlife and people.

Deadheading the spent flowers, in certain plant species, will re-invigorate the plant to produce another round of blooms for pollinators and will beautify your garden.

How To Deadhead Flowers

If the thought of the process of keeping your flowers pruned and deadheaded seems overwhelming, try not doing it all at once. Instead, break your yard up into sections and do a little bit at a time. You may find the process enjoyable and peaceful.

1. Time Your Deadheading.

You actually don't have to worry about timing when deadheading flowers. This garden chore can, and should, happen throughout the growing season,

How often to deadhead depends on the specific plant and the weather. Towards the end of summer and into fall, you may want to allow certain plants the opportunity to go to seed as plants have attractive seeds and provide food to wildlife in the cooler months.

2. How To Cut

Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia
Use Snips
To Deadhead

Choosing the point to deadhead may seem confusing. If you cut close to the bottom of the bloom, chances are you will be left with a dry and unattractive stem. Where to deadhead or prune a plant can change depending on the species.

For a basic rule of thumb, deadhead your spent flowers and stems back to ¼ inch above a new lateral flower, lateral leaf or bud. This encourages new growth and healthy foliage.

3. Making The Cut

Although some plants can simply be pinched, try using snips (for example, Micro-Tip Snips) to deadhead most plants. They give me the ability to quickly reach into a plant and make a clean, tidy cut with minimal damage to the plant.

Larger, woody stems, such as roses, may require a stronger tool. For these plants, you may want to use your pruner for a clean, sharp cut. Larger stems should be cut at a 45-degree angle. This reduces the risk of disease or damage.

4. Cleaning Up

The main point of deadheading plants is to make your flower beds look amazing – so don't drop your spent blooms on the ground. It's just as easy to collect them in a small bucket for disposal in your compost pile.

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