The Importance of Deadheading

If you want to keep your garden filled with riotous color all season long, don't forget to nip off those spent blooms.

By Jennifer Noonan | Published Sep 4, 2013 5:29 PM

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As your garden flourishes over the summer and your springtime planting efforts are rewarded with beautiful bursts of color and foliage, it’s tempting to think the work is all behind you. But plenty of garden chores remain to be done at the midsummer mark. The most important? Deadheading flowers and shrubs.

Deadheading refers to the process of snipping off withered blooms. To do it properly, use a sharp pair of pruners to cut the spent flower either below the flower head or above the closest set of leaves.

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Deadheading - Buddleia


Why is it important to deadhead? First and foremost, it keeps your plants looking their best, but if that’s not incentive enough, here are a few additional reasons to deadhead diligently.

1. Plant Health. Deadheading strengthens your plants because when you remove those flower heads, the plant stops spending energy creating seeds. Instead, it channels that energy into the roots and foliage, to the benefit of your plant’s overall health.

2. Second Blooms. Cutting off the old blooms encourages the plant to produce new ones. After all, plants set seeds in order to propagate themselves. If a bloom is removed before going to seed, the plant can’t help but try again with another flower.

3. Seed Harvesting. Deadheading makes it especially easy to save seeds for next year. Toward the end of the season, take the blossoms you’ve removed and let them fully dry out. Many of those flower heads will be ripe with seeds you can put away for spring.

As you walk in your garden, get in the habit of taking a pair of pruners and a small bucket with you. Deadhead as you go, just a little bit each day. It’s not hard to do, and if you approach it the right way, the chore never becomes overwhelming. Your plants are sure to display their gratitude!