A.  Deadheading, the removal of spent flowers from the plant, is a necessary chore in any flower garden.  This task can be less tedious if regarded as an opportunity to spend time outdoors on a nice day and enjoy the weather.  Deadheading prolongs the blooming period of annuals by preventing seed formation.  It also encourages many perennials to re-bloom.  Deadheading can be considered also as a form of pruning.  Proper deadheading encourages plants to grow bushier and produce more flowers.  Soft stemmed plants can be deadheaded by hand or flower shears.  Thick stems and woody plants may require pruning shears.  Always cut back the stem to right above

a pair of leaves

a dormant bud on the stem

in a leaf axil (a small green bump) or

close to the ground for leafless stems, such as spring-flowering bulbs, hostas and daylilies, to promote new growth and more flowers.

Plants with attractive seed heads, such as rudbeckia and globe thistle need not be deadheaded and can be left for winter interest.  Some specifics may apply to certain flowers:

Roses should be dead headed (cut back) right above a stem with five (not three) leaflets, to stimulate re-blooming.

Tulips, narcissus and other bulbs should be deadheaded only after the foliage turn yellow and dries, in order to nourish the bulb.

Lilacs should be deadheaded immediately after they've finished blooming to avoid accidentally snipping next year's buds, if done later in the season.

Deadheading improves the overall appearance of the flower garden, further adding to it beauty.

There are however, some alternative to deadheading.  Plant ageratum, begonia, impatiens, lobelia or periwinkles.  Their faded petals just fall to the ground and disappear without any assistance from the gardener.

 


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