Deadheading is the removal of spent flowers, or ones past their peak, on annuals and perennials.
Deadheading may seem pointless, but it regularly promotes more flowers to develop because the plant does not spend energy producing seeds but concentrates on continual flowering.
The plant’s performance intensifies, and a simple task enhances its appearance. To deadhead, you can snap the faded flower off or cut the flowers off and utilise this time to shape the plant and have it look fuller and healthier. The root system, hidden from view, will also benefit from the energy being diverted away from seed production and back to the overall health and vigour of the plant.
The main principle of an annual is to form seeds and perpetuate the plant’s life cycle; the formation of developed seeds tells the plant it has done its job, and the plant dies off as it has fulfilled its purpose, such as when lettuce flowers. Deadheading delays this cycle, and the plant still strives to develop flowers to produce viable seeds.
Try a regular deadheading approach this spring and enjoy healthier plants and extended flowering. A side benefit is that seed is removed, so unwanted seedlings decrease and no longer pop up in lawns and gardens. Look at pansies or viola; the fallen petals expose a swelling seed pod; the plant produces fewer flowers, and then the pod explodes and scatters seed around the immediate area. Remove the spent flowers, and you are rewarded with many flowers to continue through the season.