The Grateful Deadheader
Deadheading if fun. Deadheading is relaxing. Almost every day, I take time to deadhead selected flowers.in the morning or evening (sometimes both).
Deadheading, of course, is removing faded flowers. We do this to keep the fresh, new flowers coming. You could argue that this is mean to plants, who want only to produce a certain quantity of seed so that they can relax and take a nap. By removing flowers before the seeds ripen, we force plants to produce more flowers and extend the blooming period.
You could deadhead any plant, but it works better – and is more needed – with some than with others.
In our garden, my #1 deadheading priority is the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), whose beautiful orange flowers tend to be somewhat short-lived. Fortunately fresh blooms appear with great rapidity and in even greater numbers.
With Mexican Sunflower you need a scissors or pruner because the stems, though surprisingly delicate, do not break. Mexican Sunflowers eventually achieve the size of large shrubs with LOTS of flowers, so deadheading is like a game of hide and seek. You poke among the numerous stems, buds, and blooms for those seedheads that have lost their bright orange petals (actually ray flowers).
It’s very satisfying when you find one that is cleverly hidden. I only wish I could pay someone to follow me around and ring a bell every time I deftly wield my little pruner.
Another flower for daily deadheading is ‘Sonata Carmine’ Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus). As with Mexican Sunflower, the more faded flowers you pick, the more new flower buds rush to take their place.
No pruner is needed however. Just grab hold of the fading flower and give it a pull. They give a gratifying little “pop” when you do so. Don’t grab the stems, however, as you are likely to pull up a whole chunk of the plant.
Then there are Marigolds (Tagetes patula), of course. These can also be deadheaded by hand, the fading flowers making a sound like snap beans when you break them off their stems.
I used to deadhead the flowers on my roses, especially ‘Cassie’. However, this year I decided to let it go. The result is that all the rose hips are quickly gobbled up by birds. After a brief summer vacation, ‘Cassie’ is again producing flowers.
Deadheading is surely one of the most relaxing things you can do after a stressful day. A simple but satisfying task that pays enormous dividends for your garden. Plus those little pops and snaps which to me are so soothing. If only I could find someone to ring a bell when I deadhead the Tithonia.
Do you enjoy deadheading your flowers?