August 9, 2017

Flowering plants often continue to produce colorful blooms throughout their growing season. This is true for both perennials and annuals. Some plants produce blooms only once and then flourish as greenery.

The plants that continue to flower can benefit from what is called deadheading. This is the practice of removing the dead flowers to maintain attractive and healthier plants. Deadheading not only improves the appearance of your garden it also helps to make room for new blossoms and encourages growth, preventing the plants from expending energy on producing seeds.


How Do You Deadhead?

Removing dead flowers is a fairly simple procedure, though it does take a little bit of patience. If you are in Ann Arbor, Michigan, you will want to do this from late spring into early fall. As the blossoms dry out and lose their vibrant color, you can pull the flower off with your fingers right at its base. You can also trim the stem down to the first healthy green leaves using pruning shears.

With some flowering plants, such as roses, you can cut down to where you see new blossoms forming, which may be about 5 sets of leaves below the dead blooms. This can help the plant to be bushier rather than long and leggy.

Deadheading often and early in the growing season will reward you with a full and colorful flowering garden well into the fall. Allow yourself a few minutes in the early morning a couple of days a week to maintain your flowering plants. This can be a meditative experience.


What Flowering Plants Benefit from Deadheading?

Not all flowering plants need to be deadheaded. For instance, Rhododendron will bloom early in the season in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the flowers will fall off by themselves. They will only need to be trimmed back before winter. Hosta are similar in that they will bloom once in mid-summer, then the flowering stalks will simply dry up. Of course, the deer will likely eat the blossoms before you get a chance to really enjoy them.


Common garden and potted plants that can benefit from deadheading include:

  • Bee Balm
  • Columbine
  • Coneflowers
  • Cosmos
  • Geraniums
  • Lavender
  • Marigolds
  • Petunias
  • Phlox
  • Rose bushes
  • Shasta Daisies


Deadheading keeps your garden looking pretty and encourages new growth. This attracts beneficial insects, such as bees to help pollinate the garden and contribute to local honey harvesting. You may also be lucky enough to attract hummingbirds. Routine maintenance of your gardens and potted plants is rewarding and healthy for the ecosystem.