Keep your plants flowering all summer


By now you probably have all your bedding plants in the ground and are enjoying the colorful displays and want to keep the show all summer until the frost. There is a secret to this and it is called "Deadheading."

The function of any plant is to produce seeds. The flowers are merely a method of achieving this. They are colorful and scented in order to attract insects to pollinate the seeds. Once this end is achieved, the plant will concentrate on ripening the seeds to carry on the plant's life. It will produce more flowers but not as profusely as the first growth.

If you cut off the dead flowers before they have produced seeds the plant will bloom again with the original vigor. In the case of Salvias and Antirrhinums and similar plants which have several flowers on a stem I wait until all the flowers on that stem have gone and cut off the entire stem. For other plants like marigolds etc., I cut off individual flowers with a pair of scissors.

I have not found it necessary to deadhead some flowers like Impatience, some Begonias and some Petunias. The wave begonias, which are hybrids, do not produce seeds.

In the case of the Begonias there is a variety named "Dragon Wings" available in pink and red which are sterile and do not produce seeds. The flower sprays just fall off after blooming, an ideal plant for containers or mass planting and will tolerate part shade. Above is a picture of one plant I grew last year in a container on my back porch which faces north and is quite shady.

It is not only annuals that benefit from deadheading but other plants as well, Roses will sometimes bloom again if deadheaded. They also look neater and tidier, the same applies to Dahlias. The daylilies will benefit from having the seed pads removed, the old stems will die down and can be removed. The way to do this is to gently pull on the stems after they have turned brown or yellow. If they come away easily they can be removed, if on the other hand they are tight leave them.

Although it is late in the year all the spring bulbs should be deadheaded particularly tulips and daffodils. Dead blossoms will form seed pods.  You want the energy to go into producing next year's flowers not producing seed. The tulips can be treated the same way as the daylilies by gently pulling the stem. If it is ready, it will come away easily.


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