VA.PHC

Plant Health Care in Richmond, VA

Off With Their Heads: Deadheading Perennials – Fine Gardening Article

with one comment

http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/off-with-their-heads.aspx?utm_source=email&utm_medium=eletter&utm_content=20120514-container-slideshow&utm_campaign=fine-gardening-eletter

Off With Their Heads: Deadheading Perennials

Photo/Illustration: Tracy DiSabato-Aust, courtesy of Timber Press

As a garden designer and speaker, I often talk about how foliage texture and form can provide the backbone to a perennial garden. But, as a gardener, I have to admit that I want a lot of flowers in addition to interesting foliage. Planting long-blooming perennials is one way to keep the floral display going. Deadheading—the practice of removing spent blossoms—is another way to keep your garden in flowers.

Deadheading refreshes a plant’s appearance, controls seed dispersal, and redirects a plant’s energy from seed production to root and vegetative growth. However, I do it primarily to prolong the bloom period or encourage a second flush of blooms on some perennials. I also do it to keep other perennials tidy.

Deadheading is a maintenance practice that can be done throughout the growing season, from spring until autumn. The best time to deadhead a flower is when its appearance begins to decline. How often you’ll have to deadhead a particular plant depends on the life span of its blooms, which can range from a day to several weeks, depending on the species. Weather also greatly affects a flower’s longevity. During moist, cool summers, flowers will last much longer than they will during a season of sweltering heat. Torrential rains also take their toll on blossoms.

Choosing the exact point to make a deadheading cut can seem confusing, since perennials have different flower forms. Because deadheading, like other types of pruning, is so species specific, it can be difficult to group plants into categories. For most plants, however, all you need to remember is to prune spent flowers and stems back to a point where there’s a new lateral flower or bud. If no new flower is apparent, prune the stem back to a lateral leaf.

Many gardeners find deadheading enjoyable and relaxing. In fact, for me, it’s very meditative and centering. But if you do not fall into this camp, the best way to keep from feeling overwhelmed is to visit your garden daily and do a little at a time. I’ve found that once I get into a schedule of deadheading on a regular basis, the waves of blooms in my garden can be extended by weeks or even months.

 

Advertisements

Written by vaphc

May 14, 2012 at 7:20 pm

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Ah, deadheading…one of the most relaxing and satisfying duties of gardening!

    Robyn :)

    May 15, 2012 at 5:26 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: