How to deadhead flowers

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Deadheading is undertaken to keep plants looking beautiful and encourage more blooms, whether these plants are in beds, borders, containers or hanging baskets. Deadheading should usually take place as flowers begin to fade or die. has compiled a complete guide to explain how deadheading works.

What is deadheading?

Deadheading is a term used to describe the process by which flowers from plants are removed when they begin to fade or die.

This process helps to keep plants looking attractive and encourage more blooms.

Deadheading is an important task to keep up within the garden throughout the growing season.

Most flowers will lose their attraction as they fade, spoiling the overall appearance of a garden or individual plants.

When should you deadhead your plants?

You should take the step to deadhead your flowers when they begin to look scruffy.

Usually, a gardener should remove them as soon as they can, but usually, it will not impact it massively if there is a slight delay in this process.

Deadheading is also important to promote stronger growth and more flowers.

Once the flowers are pollinated; seed heads, pods or capsules form at the expense of further growth and flower development.

How to deadhead flowers

There are two methods you can use to deadhead flowers.

The first method is the simplest and involves using your finger or thumb.

Simply pinch off the faded blooms with a finger and thumb combination.

The aim is to remove the flower with its stalk to ensure the plant looks tidy.

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The second method is to use secateurs, scissors or a knife.

For this method, begin by taking off each flower from the cluster as its petals begin to fall, snipping with secateurs or pinching it out.

This will keep the plant looking good while the rest of the buds open.

Once all the flowers in a cluster have finished, remove the whole stem.

Snip off the flowerhead and around six inches of stem, cutting just above a strong and healthy leaf to deadhead flowers effectively.

Your next flower shoot will grow from that leaf joint.

Where should you deadhead flowers?

Different types of flowers should be deadheaded at different places.

With border perennials and annuals, you should trim away the old flowers and cut them back to the bud or leaf.

For some hardy geraniums, delphiniums and lupins, you may be able to produce a second flush of flowers if they are cut back close to ground level.

This method is known as the Chelsea Chop and should be carried out at the end of May.

Plants such as lady’s mantle and oriental poppies can be cut back near ground level but will likely only produce fresh foliage.

With fading roses, you should gently snap the stalk off just below the head, rather than cutting just above a leaf.

The snapping method will result in more blooms being produced more quickly on repeat-flowering cultivars.

Which plants do not need deadheading?

Not all plants require deadheading.

Some obliging plants, such as fuchsias, bedding lobelia and salvias do not need deadheading.

In addition, you do not need to remove the faded flowers on plants which produce seeds enjoyed by birds.

Rose cultivars which bear hips or other berries in the autumn do not need to be deadheaded.

Leave plants that have ornamental seeds or fruits without deadheading; examples include alliums, stinking iris or bladder cherry.

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