Monday, July 21, 2008
I have gardened since I was a little girl. I learned most things from my Mother, who learned most things from her Mother. I think lots of gardeners will say the same thing. One of my Mother's most important gardening jobs is deadheading. That lady is a conscientious deadheader! And, I learned early on there is a proper way to deadhead. Mother is especially particular about petunias--and her petunias are beautiful and live forever (even re-seed!) in this Texas heat! (You can't just pick off the spent flower, you must pinch back to the first set of leaves! ) However, my curiosity has gotten the best of me lately, and I want to know; do I have to deadhead everything? So, I decided to do some research, and this is what I found.
Deadheading, as you know, is removing spent flowers. There are different types or ways of deadheading; deadheading buds, deadheading flower stems, pinching back, shearing back and pruning. It's lots of trouble though, so why deadhead? Because not only does it keep the plants looking more attractive, but if the old dying flowers remain on the plant, they go to seed and stop producing flowers. Okay, but now I want to know if all flowers must be deadheaded. I have read and read trying to figure this one out.
I always deadhead my geraniums; I read you do not need to deadhead profusion zinnias so I have not and they are beautiful. I read to leave the old blooms of coneflowers on for the birds. I don't deadhead my Black Eye Susans, I am too busy picking them (so would that be considered deadheading even though they are not really dead?) , but I don't think they bloom as long as others I have seen.
Coleus are easy. They are not here for the flowers they produce, so just pinch the little flowers off so the energy can go back to the plants. I will admit though--I have several coleus and sometimes I let them flower a little. But I will not hesitate to prune these beauties way back so they will be bushy.
To deadhead or not to deadhead--that is the question. In my searching the Internet and reading articles I found a list that really helped me. I hope it will help you too. I know I am not the only one that dreads going out to the garden with pruners in hand to really shear a plant back, but I have no problem heading out armed with my garden scissors to take off the old blooms. My only problem is forgetting my glasses and accidentally taking off the prettiest flower along with the dead! Oh well....if I do, I have plenty of vases!