Deadheading Flowers Can be Fun
Deadheads in the garden are easier to deal with. We simply pluck them out. It is time to deadhead when flowers are tired and unenthused, their blossoms spent.
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Salt Lake Tribune
Deadheading is my favorite gardening verb. Announcing my intention to go to the garden and deadhead always turns a head in my house. "You're doing what?" my husband asks.
I first heard the term deadhead decades ago, as applied to fans of Jerry Garcia, and again when my mother made it plural and applied it to a group of slow-moving art students my father had hired to help him finish construction details in his new studio.
Deadheads in the garden are easier to deal with. We simply pluck them out. It is time to deadhead when flowers are tired and unenthused, their blossoms spent. At that point, the flowers are considering the task of making seeds and should be clipped before they spend such energy. Besides, deadheading is fun and can be habit-forming.
In The Flower Gardener's Bible by Lewis and Nancy Hill, the authors confess to their enthusiasm for the practice. "The deadheading habit has become so established in us that more than once we've found ourselves in the embarrassing position of deadheading while visiting a friend's garden," they write.
I chuckled at that passage, since I am guilty of the same behavior, sometimes in public gardens. I figure deadheading is an endless task and that everyone, myself included, appreciates a little help.
I aggressively deadheaded (bordering on chopping to the ground) a misplaced, misguided, mystery clump of Shasta daisies in June. I revisited them with a vengeance last week.
To properly deadhead, cut the spent stem at the point where it connects with the main stem, or the point at which there is new growth. Simply popping the dead blossoms off stems isn't good enough, and leaves the garden full of headless sticks. Plants with smaller blossoms, such as dianthus, can be cut all over, more aggressively.
This also gives the garden a tidied-up look and may promote another bloom time if the growing season is long enough.
Daisies, daylilies, dianthus, coreopsis, marigolds, petunias and geraniums demand deadheading attention and look awful if they are ignored. Even low-water, low-maintenance flowers like the penstemons and yarrow appreciate the boost of a good deadheading at the end of the season.
The Hills write that unless you are collecting seeds for next year, letting the plants form seeds also weakens the plant and can shorten its life