Q: I’ve heard other gardeners talk about ‘deadheading flowers’ — exactly what is that. How do I do it?

A: Deadheading is the removal of fading flowers to encourage new blooms and keep a plant tidy. Flowering is how plants make their seeds. In order to extend the life of our flowering plants, we need to deadhead spent blooms. By deadheading, you make the plant redirect its energy into growing flowers.

Basically deadheading serves two purposes: it keeps plants looking attractive, and it stops seed production. With most flowers, it’s fairly easy to tell when to deadhead — the flower begins to fade and petals are shrivelling and drying out. If the bloom has begun to lose its color, the plant will benefit from deadheading. The longer you leave fading flowers, the longer the plant will waste energy on dying blooms.

Deadheading is done in one of two ways: by cutting off fading blooms, or by pinching them off. For flowers that will rebloom, like Coreopsis grandiflora, cut off blooms with either your fingers or a set of snips, snapping off the stem above the next set of leaves. Use shears to cut smaller, more delicate flowers.
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