As we near the Fourth of July holiday, the fruits of our labor begin to show themselves in the garden. Color abounds and everything comes together beautifully. After a few weeks of breathtaking color, you may notice that the garden begins to look a bit tired, or faded. How can you keep your garden blooming longer and looking fresh?
The answer is simple: deadheading. "Deadheading!" you may say. Even the name sounds scary. However, this term simply refers to the act of trimming off spent blooms to keep plants tidy and extend their bloom time. By removing spent blooms, plants use their energy to create more flowers, rather than seeds.
Deadheading is very simple. Start with a sharp pair of clean shears or pruners.
For daisy-type flowers with larger blooms, (such as Coneflowers, Black Eyed Susans, Shasta Daisies, Zinnias, Dahlias, etc.) snip the spent flower about .25" above the next bud for additional blooms. If there are no more buds on the stalk, cut it off at the point where it meets the leaves or stem. Small daisy-type flowers, like coreopsis, will take too long to cut one by one. For these types of plants, shear off the upper portion, as if giving it a haircut.
Spiky bloomers like Salvia, Delphinium, Foxglove, and Veronica tend to bloom in flushes rather than individually. Follow the faded spikes down into the base of the plant to encourage a second growth of color.
When it comes to Lilies, it is best to remove each individual spent flower. Lilies form clusters of buds that bloom in succession. If you remove the whole stem too soon, you may sacrifice future blossoms.
Softer stemmed flowers can be pinched with just your thumb and forefinger. As before, pinch about .25" above the next bud, or follow the spent flower head to the area where it attaches to the stem. Not only does this encourage more flowers but also a bushier plant. Your flower beds will fill in quicker. A few examples of annuals that benefit from pinching are: Impatiens, Marigolds, Petunias, and Dianthus.
Scan over your garden once a week and deadhead the spent blooms. The first time may take a little while, but if you keep up with it weekly, it is a rather quick process – with great rewards!