Monday, July 21, 2008

Deadhead.....or not!

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!


TinaTx said...

Hi - and thaks for stopping by my blog! I'm adding yours to my blog reader so I can go back and read more when I have time. Interesting post about deadheading.
I'm just south of Tyler so you aren't too far away! There are lots of stitching blogs out there (most of which contain more actual stitching than mine does!) but I like reading a mixture of things.
So glad you stopped by!

Anonymous said...

That is very interesting, especially about the coneflowers, I have been deadheading mine but now I will leave them alone. And, if I'd ever known what Mother said about petunias, I'd forgotten. No wonder hers look so pretty and mine rarely do! Thanks for sharing the info...


Northern Shade said...

I find deadheading to be one of the more enjoyable gardening tasks, very satisfying. Usually you don't have to bother getting any tools out, so I often deadhead while just puttering aimlessly around, pinching with my fingernail.
My favourite to deadhead are the Campanula. They come off so easily, nice and clean, pinch, pinch, pinch. Sometimes, if I only have a few minutes, I head over to the bellflowers for a little fun.

cindee said...

I am working on deadheading too. Its a non ending job(-:

Anonymous said...

I'm with Northern Shade, I love deadheading my flowers. It does stimulate them to make more blooms instead of using that energy to make seed. Plus I find it very de-stressing. Weeding is another stress reliever for me too. Great post Linda. Gives me something to think about! :)

Meadowview Thymes said...

Tina, yes I know Tyler! My husband is from Lufkin. Hope to "visit" you again soon!!

Kim, Mother is very strict about deadheading. She even told me she did not agree with everything on the list I included in this post!

Meadowview Thymes said...

NorthernShade--I will go out and sit in the swing and think I am going to relax, then start to look around and off I go to deadhead. But you are right, I like to do it too. It IS a form of relaxation. Have you ever gone on a garden tour and almost pinched back a flower? : )

Meadowview Thymes said...

Cindee--it is indeed never ending. But it's something you can just do and let your mind wander...which is so relaxing.

PerennialGardener--Deadheading is a stress buster---not sure about weeding, but maybe because it's so hot here. My favorite weed to pull is nut grass. Love the way it comes up!
Thanks for the compliment on the blog!