Deadheading for Extended Bloom

You, too, can advance confidently into the garden armed with sharp tools and knowledge about keeping your plants neat-looking and blooming all season long.

Let's face it. Even the name is scary.

But deadheading, despite the ominous sound, is nothing more than trimming off spent flowers, keeping plants tidy, and ensuring maximum bloom time. Some gardeners worry that if done imperfectly, it might harm the plant. But unless you really whack away at it, it's tough to kill or badly deform a plant by deadheading.

First and foremost, deadheading keeps your garden attractive. Nearly all flowering plants benefit from at least a little deadheading. When blooms start to fade, brown, curl, or otherwise look unattractive, that's the time to trim them off, allowing the other flowers to shine.

Snip Phlox

Use sharp scissors or clippers to
get through the woody stem.

Use hand pruners or a pair of sharp scissors to deadhead flowers that feature tougher, almost woody stems. The key is to cut off the spent flower a quarter-inch above the next bud, as seen with this phlox (pictured). Other flowers to snip include peony, aster, coneflower (Echinacea spp.), coreopsis, hosta, zinnia, lily, and Rudbeckia. Cut off the faded spikes of these flowers to encourage a second flush of bloom: delphinium, floxglove, veronica, salvia, yarrow, geranium, and rose.

Breaking off Daylilies

daylilies A gentle tug and the old flower
will snap right off.

Breaking off the flower where the stem meets the stalk is the way to sucessfully dehead long-stem flowers, such as this daylily, that grow in a sucession of blooms on a single stalk. Pull down gently on the spent flower until it cleanly snaps off. Breaking off faded daylilies will add to the plant's appearance if not the overall flower productivity. Other flowers to break off incude iris, Gladiola, and hollyhock.

Pinch Mums

Smaller flowers only require a
little pinch.

You don't need scissors to deadhead more herbaceous flowers, such as this chrysanthemum. Just use your thumb and forefinger to pinch off old blooms, especially on compact plants that feature many flowers. Pinch off faded flowers about a quarter-inch above new buds. Pinch impatiens, marigold, pansy, petunia, viola, dianthus, poppy, cosmos, and columbine.

Continued on page 2:  Other Color-Extending Techiques