When you get a plant to produce beautiful flowers, how do you keep that going as long as possible? Well, a big part of the answer is deadheading.
Deadheading is the active and frequent removal of dead or faded flowers from a flowering plant.
That name – deadheading – may sound kind of brutal but it’s exactly what you need to do if you want to keep you flowering annuals (and many perennials) in tip-top blooming form throughout their flowering season.
There are two main positive outcomes from doing it:
- It keeps the plant looking attractive by removing dead and dying flowers
- It sends biochemical signals to the plant telling it to redirect energy to producing more flowers – which is exactly what you want.
Why Deadhead Flowers
Well the first reason, to keep the flowering plant attractive, is pretty self-explanatory since the whole reason we grow flowering plants is because of the beauty they bring to our garden. Dead and dying flowers tends to get in the way of that major outcome.
The second reason is pretty interesting. From a flowering plant’s perspective, the reason for being is to produce seeds to pass on to the next generation. That process starts with a beautiful vibrant flower that attracts pollinating insects and ends with a dead flower with seeds attached – job done right? No, not job done. Us pesky humans need to get in the way of that process and make the plant work harder for longer to fulfill its destiny. The payoff for us is a plant that keeps on producing those beautiful new flowers because some annoying person keeps coming along and removing everything further along the process other than the fresh flowers – annoying for the plant but great for the vigilant green thumb gardening human!
This approach works especially well for flowering annuals but is also a very useful approach for perennials too.
To be honest, as far as garden tasks go, the whole process of being continuously vigilant and dutifully deadheading your garden flowering plants can become a bit tedious and seem a little never-ending. But the pay-off in new blooms is so worth the effort. I find the whole process quite mindful actually. It has become a positive habit for me to spend a few minutes every other day just cleaning up a plant or two while communing with nature. This is a little ironic since what I am actually doing is callously deciding the fate of the dead and dying flowers – I guess they don’t call it deadheading for nothing. Like I said though, the effort is well worth it.