Deadheading is a form of
pruning which involves removing the spent flowers on
plants, especially on
herbaceous perennials in the
garden. Spent flowers are those that have either been
pollinated or have passed their prime. At that point,
they begin to lose their petals and "shatter".
Keeping flowering plants
deadheaded is important for two reasons:
Encourage More Blooms -
Many plants, especially annuals, have one
intent...to produce seeds for the next generation.
If they reach this goal, they will stop flowering
and concentrate on producing seeds. When you
deadhead these plants, it triggers internal chemical
signals which tell the plant that their job for the
year is not done. They then begin to produce more
flowers which is what we want from these plants in
Prevent Seed Formation
- In our landscapes, there are some plants that
reproduce true from seed which we want to multiply.
This group would include some of the
gaillardia and others.
However, it is not desirable for most of the plants
in our landscapes to produce seed for two reasons:
Hybrids - Most
plants with a 'cultivar' name are hybrids
which almost never reproduce true to form by
seed. Often, these are the result of cross
breeding two different, related plants which
result in the next generation having hybrid
vigor. That is great for our garden.
Unfortunately, when these hybrids then cross
breed, the resulting seedlings may look
nothing like the parents. That is generally
not what we want in our gardens and
deadheading will prevent this from
Energy Drain -
Seed production in plants is a survival
issue. Therefore, the plant puts a lot of
effort and energy into the developing seed.
If we are not interested in using these
seeds, it is to the plant's benefit to
deadhead the spent flowers. This stops the
seed production process and the plant
(especially perennials) will be able to
divert that energy into building stronger
root systems and reserves for next year's
Deadheading is not
the same as Pinching.