Why You Should (or Shouldn't) Deadhead Flowers

Dahlia flowerYou may have heard the term “deadheading” before, but what is it and why should you do it? Deadheading means removing dead or dying flowers from a plant in your container garden. Instead of focusing its energy on producing seeds, the plant is able to use that energy elsewhere.

Flowering plants also have a need to grow flowers that will eventually produce seeds – the more you deadhead the flowers, the more flowers the plant will produce because it wants to produce seeds so its genes can survive after it dies.

There are many benefits to deadheading flowers, including:

  • More flower blooms
  • Flowers that last longer into the season
  • More hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators (with flowers that attract this type of wildlife) in the garden
  • More lush foliage growth
  • Better-looking plant displays

If you have a lot of little flowers, don’t feel like you need to deadhead every one of them. Just take some sharp, clean garden pruners and cut back the flowering plant so it will produce a second set of spectacular flower blooms.

If you want your plant to produce seeds, then don’t deadhead your flowers. Allow the flowers to die and the plant to invest energy in producing the seeds. When flowers produce seeds or fruits, they can attract wild birds to your garden. If you want wild birds, let the flowers go to seed. Some flowers can also self-seed, meaning that their seeds will drop down to the potting soil below and sprout new plants without any work from the container gardener!

You can choose to deadhead if you want your plant growth to be compact, lush and filled with new blooms, and you can choose not to deadhead if you want your plants to self-seed or if you want to attract wild birds and other wildlife to your container garden. You may choose to deadhead some flower species every day in midsummer, while leaving other plants alone. It’s entirely up to you. Your garden is exactly that – your garden. Enjoy it the way you want!

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