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Garden Housekeeping

Deadheading – or removing spent blossoms – proves beneficial for your garden’s aesthetics and creates potential for more blooms.

Improving the look of your garden this summer can be accomplished with a few simple tasks. One of these is deadheading – removing spent blossoms on perennial and annual plants. This not only improves the appearance of the plant, but for some plants deadheading will trigger more flowers to bloom.

Deadheading can be done on a daily or weekly basis, and like me, you may just find this enjoyable and relaxing. As you stroll through your garden, take note of blossoms that are starting to decline. Snip these off, and depending on the type of plant, it should be cut back to a lateral leaf. Picking flowers for a bouquet to bring into your home to enjoy can help with this task.

One of my favorite long-blooming perennials is Monarda (bee balm), which attracts bees and hummingbirds.  Monarda is one of these perennials that can continue blooming for a long time by picking the flower in the center of the plant. Additional blooms will continue when this is done.

The following perennials may rebloom after deadheading:

  • Bee balm (Monarda)
  • Blanket flowers (Gaillardia)
  • Catmint (Nepeta)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia)
  • Delphiniums
  • False sunflowers (Heliopsis helianthoides)
  • Foxgloves (Digitalis)
  • Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata)
  • Geums
  • Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea)
  • Lavenders
  • Lupines
  • Monkshood (Aconitum)
  • Penstemon
  • Pincushion flowers (Scabiosa)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Salvias
  • Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum)
  • Spike speedwells (Veronica spicata)
  • Tickseeds (Coreopsis)
  • Yarrows (Achillea)

Nepeta (Catmint) can benefit from shearing back the plant after its first flowering is finished. By cutting back the Catmint before the end of June, you will force the plant into a second flowering period, and the plant will look neat and compact.   Another perennial that benefits from shearing is Salvia after its first round of blooms are done.

Plants to Leave Alone

Deadheading and cutting back aren’t always necessary for some plants. Columbine (Aquilegia), Purple coneflower (Echinacea) and Butterfly weed (Asclepias) are examples of some perennials on which you may want to leave the spent blooms so that they will reseed or attract wildlife.

If you enjoy watching birds perch on your Purple coneflower to eat the seeds, you will want to let the blossoms go to seed. Blazing Star (Liatris) is great for attracting gold finches with their seeds. Clematis can have interesting seedpods after they finish blooming.

Deadheading for Aesthetics

Not all perennials will continue to bloom, but will look better after deadheading. Daylilies are an example of this, as are irises, peonies, hostas and Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina). Many gardeners do not like the look of the flowers on Lamb’s Ears, and cut them to maintain the groundcover look of the plant. However, I have found that the flowers of Lamb’s Ears look great in a flower arrangement, with their soft texture and tiny violet flowers.   For the perennials that will not rebloom after deadheading, this task will make your garden look tidier.

Deadheading is also important for annuals in order to keep their appearance looking great all season long. Just snip back blooms that are fading, and before you know it, you will have an abundance of new blooms.

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