Thursday, June 14, 2007

Off With Their Heads!

Right along with weeding, I enjoy deadheading in the garden. Almost every morning, I head out to survey the gardens, looking for new blooms, naughty insects, and spent flower heads from which I don't want to save seeds. I generally take my camera along with my Felco pruners, because those two things are what I use most often on a regular basis. You never know what might need pruning or photographing.

Just having the need to do some deadheading means we've really and truly left winter behind and we're well on our way to summer. Deadheading serves several purposes for me:

  • I don't like seeing ugly, shriveled flowers, so snipping them off neatens things up a bit. The entire plant just looks better with healthy foliage and/or fresh blooms.
  • By deadheading, it signals some plants to flower again. If it happens to be an annual or perennial that reblooms, deadheading keeps this process active.
  • Sometimes I want to save seeds from my plants and sometimes I don't. For example, I let the columbine go to seed and let it drop where it may or I gather it and sprinkle it where I want it. On the other hand, I don't want my tulips wasting energy on seed production, and deadheading them lets them work on beefing up the bulb for next year's blooms.

Flowers that I deadhead regularly throughout the growing season include coreopsis, hardy geranium, geum, roses, platycodon, daisies, coneflower, pelargoniums, petunias, and dianthus, just to name a few.

After doing some deadheading today, I gave the creeping phlox a haircut. After blooming, they're supposed to be sheared back by half. This promotes new growth and helps them form a more dense mat and may even result in some sparse reblooming.

I'm pinching back my chrysanthemums and hardy asters, too, and will continue to do so until July 4th. That keeps those from getting too leggy and there'll be more blooms when it's flowering time for them.


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