The Dos and Don'ts
of Deadheading Flowers
What is deadheading?
“Deadheading” is the term for removing spent or faded flowers from plants.
DON’T deadhead without researching your plants first.
Repeat bloomers like cosmos and geraniums will continue to flower all summer if deadheaded regularly, but others, particularly perennials like hollyhock and foxglove, must reseed to bloom the following year.
DO pinch in the right place.
You can use garden shears, or simply pinch off the dead flower with your fingers—just make sure to remove any seed pods that may have started to form behind the flower.
DON’T feel compelled to save the stem.
The stem will need to grow back before you’ll see another bloom, but it should flower again.
DO inspect flowers regularly.
DON’T deadhead if plants produce pretty seed pods.
Some plants, like Gladwin iris, produce seed pods in the fall that are as attractive as their flowers.
DO be aware of volunteers.
Sometimes when deadheading flowers, seeds can scatter and settle in the ground. The next season, you may be surprised to find new offspring growing from those seeds that you didn’t purposely plant.
DO stop deadheading in the fall.
Birds and other wildlife will eat from flowers’ seed pods during the cold months, and for some, these seeds are a crucial food source.
DO deadhead after a heavy rain.
Plants lose moisture when they’re cut, so the extra rain can help to keep your plant happy and hydrated while deadheading.
DON’T deadhead stressed plants.
Instead, wait for the plant to fully recover and only focus on the plants that are in good condition.
DO recycle deadheaded flowers.
DON’T feel obligated to deadhead.
The practice doesn’t make your plant healthier; it just produces more blooms.
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