Deadheading sounds like something related to our presidential election choices we have these days or something, but is actually an important process of caring for annual and perennial flowers in Carolina landscapes. Deadheading is the removal of spent flowers that have finished putting on their color display so that more flowers can then be produced. It refreshes a plant’s appearance, controls seed dispersal, and directs energy from seed production to vegetative growth and flowering. The goal of annual plans, and for that matter weeds, is to grow, set seeds, and die. So by removing the spent flowers and stopping the seed process, many plants will then produce more flowers, providing your landscape with a continued display of color into the summer months.
Some common Types of flowers in Charlotte and Asheville which are good for deadheading are:
Phlox, Petunias, Begonias, Sage, Veronica, Daisy, Marigold, Zinnia, Geraniums, Coreopsis, Snapdragon, Salvia, and Roses to name a few. In most cases, one can take a pair of sharp scissors or shears and cut off the spent flower at the stem, just above a leaf or another stem. In some flowers, such as Day Lillys, one can cut off the flower stalk more at the base of the plant, and a new stalk will generate from the base. On some flowers such as Marigolds, the spent flowers can simply pinched off, and if you don’t want the seeds to germinate and produce more flowers, dispose of the seeds.
The following chart shows perennial flowering plants that do well with deadheading. Most annuals do fine also. Photo courtesy of Bob LaPointe.