A Guide to Deadheading Perennials
If you want to encourage a new growth of flowers and to prolong a flowering period in your garden, it is essential to perform a procedure called dead heading - removing spent flower blooms. It will also help to keep the landscape in your garden neat and well maintained.
Blooming is part of a plant's reproductive cycle. This cycle is usually finished if the plant is allowed to seed, but if you prevent it from seeding you can expect it to produce another bloom. So… dead heading is a simple way to keep a plant in its reproductive cycle and to allow it to produce further flowers. If you do your deadheading you will have an opportunity to enjoy the splashes of colour from your blooms for a longer period of time.
It is also a good preventive method to stop the plants from spreading across to areas of the garden where you don’t want them. A lot of perennials are invasive, and after self-seeding they will spread aggressively into the nearby area. Besides that, plants grown from seed can be weaker and less spectacular than their parent plants.
It is important to start deadheading perennials at the right time. When the flower starts losing its colour in the middle, and its petals look like they are wilting, you can cut off the bloom a few centimetres below the flower. The aesthetics of your garden will be preserved, and the plant will be spared the trouble of putting its energy to the seeds. Instead, you can expect your garden to be decorated with your favourite flowers again.
Things are a little bit more complicated when you have to deal with clusters that contain both spare and unopened flowers. There is no need to remove the whole cluster, just cut off the individual flowers which have started to look old or are wilting.
It's up to you whether to deadhead cone flowers. If you do decide to perform this procedure you should follow the general rule and make the cut a few inches below the flower head. It might encourage the plant to give several smaller flowers. However, it may be better to leave a few dead cone flowers as they will make an excellent food source for the birds. While the birds are enjoying eating seeds in your garden they will also be eating unwanted insects and keep the insect population down a bit.
As for the flower bulbs, dead heading will not stimulate a new bloom but it is also not a useless exercise for these plants. If you do deadhead them, instead of wasting their energy on the dying flowers, they will save it for the bulb itself with the result of healthy and rapid growth for the next year. If you have daffodils and tulips in your garden, after the blooming period it is advised to remove the whole flower stems.
And of course do not forget to keep you garden tools, such as pruning tools and scissors, disinfected and clean. Keeping your gardening tools clean spares you the trouble of dealing with fungal infections, powdery mildew, and pests. Infected tools can cause these to spread to other plants.
Deadheading perennials will not take a lot of time, and it will give you the opportunity to enjoy the blooms in your garden for a longer period along with the pleasure of having the whole garden landscape perfectly organized, clean and beautiful.