There’s no doubt you know exactly how you like your garden to appear. Whether you prefer to see sprawling and organic patches of plants or a manicured and structured layout, there is a way to engineer plants to fit your vision. This method of manipulating plants to grow the way you want is called “deadheading” and it is a highly useful practice for any organic gardener.
A lot of gardeners deadhead for aesthetic reasons but this practice can also encourage plants to rebloom in a healthy way. Deadheading can be done with perennials and annuals and it allows you to shape the plants.
What exactly is deadheading?
Deadheading plants means you’re actually interfering with their natural life cycle in order to redirect its energy to a more desirable purpose. Every plant has the natural goal to produce fruit and seeds for reproduction. Deadheading stunts the process so the plant’s energy can be channeled into other goals such as strengthening the roots, producing a second bloom, or growing additional branches.
When you remove deteriorating material from your plants, it rejuvenates them but it also keeps pests and pathogens away. Get in your garden and pluck off spent blooms, cut down entire stalks to the ground, and remove healthy, full blooms before they expire so you can help your plants thrive.
Remove healthy blooms
It might feel like you’re harming the plant, but cutting it encourages more growth no matter where you do the chopping. Removing healthy blooms seems counterproductive but it will convince the plant to produce a second or third bloom throughout the season.
Do you like to grow Angelonia in your garden? This flower responds well to continuous cutting. Pro tip: Cut the stalks so the foliage remains lush and the blooms will continue to flourish in the spring and summer months.
Study your plants
Deadheading is a good practice to use but it’s more effective when you know each plant in your garden and your desired goals. Plants have different needs, which means you should tailor your strategies to keep them looking their best. For example, plants with large heads should be cut down in the fall before the frost sets in. If you skip this step, the heads will freeze, fall off, and scatter throughout the garden.
Memorize the life cycle for each plant
If you’re a beginner gardener, take some time to educate yourself on the lifecycle of the plants you’re working with. With a little research, you’ll know more about the life cycles of each of your plants than you did before and this is key. You should know when a plant is about to bloom or when it’s ready to seed so you can deadhead it accordingly.
Reap the rewards
When you think about it, gardening isn’t that different from going to the gym. If you put in the time and the effort, you’ll see results. Deadheading is like the ab workout of your gardening practice: it will activate your core but you will see the benefits when the time is right.
On days when the summer heat is stifling and the humidity level is high, you’ll feel the strain, but deadheading will train your plants to become stronger and grow the way you prefer.