How to; deadhead?
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June 6, 2008 at 12:19 pm #27909
Welcome, Lyn. Depends on the plant, and your "eye" as well. For instance, I simply go around using my fingers to gently snap off the dried-up daffodil flowers and leave the flower stalk (and of course the foliage!), but other people bend down and cut out each flower stem to the ground. I have too many daffodils for that, and th stem loks something like the leaves, anyhow, and sort of blends in.
With some plants, it looks positively awful to leave the stem–like with ornamental onions, or Alliums. I leave those in place until they have done all they can for me visually (I like many of them even safter bloom, standing dried for awhile in place, but then they start to look like hell). Then I cut out the whole stalk.
With many plants, it’s also about whether in fact you CAN snap the deadhead off without uprooting things. Some blooms hold on so tight you will unearth the plant below, so snips are a must; fingers don’t work.
With shrubs, judgment and "eye" come in as well: I don’t deadhead evergreen rhododendron because they make new foliage that pretty quickly covers the messy old blooms…but lilacs leave behind giant ugly blobs all year, so I cut those off with a pruning shears, just the faded blossom back to where it attaches. I often have to use a long-reach pruner for this task, because my hand with a pruning shears in it can’t get to the upper areas. (I love the one by APS.) You can find my favorite tools linked in this article: http://awaytogarden.com/pruning-pared-way-down
Don’t deadhead anything with pretty seedheads or seedpods or fruit after the bloom, or at least not till you’re doine enjoying the second show they provide.
The key part you want to remove, by the way, if what you’re trying to do is redirect energy into the plant to grow more or make more flowers, instead of setting seeds: the part that would form the seeds. That’s usually the very center, so not just the petals, which is why I say "snap" because that part usually holds on a little tighter than mere faded petals.
Helpful? If not, ask away. Tell me specific plants if need be and maybe I have tackled them.
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