Deadhead flowers to encourage more blooms

You plant perennial flowers and annual flowers in your garden for their beauty. Once the blossoms live their short life, the plant switches its energy to seed production unless that spent blossom is removed.  For many flowering plants, the act of removing the spent blossoms will encourage the plant to produce more flowers as a survival technique for seed production. So if you do not deadhead, the plant moves into seed production mode instead of producing more flowers.

How to deadhead flowers

The deadheading process is simple, just cut or pinch off the spent flower. To pinch off means you use the thumb and forefinger of one hand to pinch the dead blossom and pull it off. Be careful though with pinching off blossoms as some plants have such shallow root systems that you could pull the plant out of the soil. An alternative method is to pop off the dead blossom; to do that, wrap your fingers around the stem beneath the blossom and use your thumb to push (pop) off the blossom.

Deadhead long stem flowers by cutting the stem to the first set of leaves or close to the base of the plant as shown on the geranium above.

Perennial flowers are a little more temperamental when it comes to producing more blossoms after deadheading. Astilbe, for example, produces lovely plumes that continue to give your garden a pretty texture even after the blossoms fade. Cutting off the plume of astilbe will not promote another plume. Similarly, these perennial flowers will not produce new blossoms following deadheading:  bulbs (e.g., lily, iris), brunnera, dianthus, and peony, just to name a few. Even though deadheading these perennials will not produce more blossoms, it is okay to remove them to enhance the beauty of the plant.

When to deadhead flowers

You should deadhead flowers as soon as the blossom dies so plant energy directs toward creating a new blossom rather that seeds. For annual flowers, like petunia or marigold, you can use both hands to pinch or pop off the dead flowers. For perennial flowers, like salvia with its spikes of flowers and coreopsis with its tiny flowers, use clippers to snip off spent flowers.

You may choose to deadhead some plant blossoms while leaving other spent blossoms to form seeds to increase the girth of your garden. 


There is no need to collect the deadheaded blossoms unless they are large and you feel leaving them would make the flowerbed look untidy.