We all have feelings, and it’s good to have healthy outlets to deal with them! When we’re sad, we can crush a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. When we’re excited, we can pop a bottle of bubbly and dance to Lizzo. So, what do we do when we’re brimming with pure, unbridled rage? While you may feel the urge to go full Quentin Tarantino when someone cuts you off in traffic or the McFlurry machine is out of order, we certainly don’t recommend real-life violence. Instead, we have a much healthier outlet for anger, so you can choose violence without actually choosing violence: deadhead pruning! 


Dees Nursery -How to deadhead your flowers in garden-pruning off spent flowers on roseWhat Is Deadhead Pruning?

Deadhead pruning involves ripping off the dead flower heads from your garden plants, but instead of resulting in a gruesome massacre, you end up with a prettier garden! It’s brilliant, really. 

When flowers fade but remain on your plant, they’re draining energy that the plant could be putting towards more new flowers. Once you pull the dead stuff off, it makes room for more blossoms and can significantly extend the overall bloom time! 

To deadhead, the ideal weapon of choice is a pair of small, sanitized pruners, but you can also use your bare hands—whatever floats your boat. Plants with thick, woody stems require shears to prevent injury and stress to the plant, but delicate herbaceous plants are easy to deadhead by hand. Simply separate the dead flower at the stem above the first set of leaves. Some flowers—like petunias—can get pretty sticky, so you may need to wash your hands with soapy water afterward to rinse away the evidence. 


Dees Nursery -How to deadhead your flowers in garden-lantana and calibrachoa flowersAre There Any Flowers You Should Not Deadhead?

While many flowers benefit from regular deadhead pruning, many varieties don’t need it. These plants are “self-cleaning” because they naturally get rid of the dead flowers themselves. Here are some examples of flowers that you don’t need to deadhead:

Some flowers, like Wave petunias, are technically considered self-cleaning, but sometimes a portion of the dead flowers still cling to the plant and need to be removed. Plus, they grow so fast and can get a bit unruly by midsummer, so a little deadhead here and there can help keep your flowers looking fresh and healthy. 


Dees Nursery -How to deadhead your flowers in garden-zinnia and geranium flowersWhat Plants Do You Need To Deadhead?

Some plants will grow so much better if you deadhead them! Releasing that inner rage out on your plants, only to be met with a fabulous new flush of flowers, is a thoroughly satisfying experience. Swap out that rage for some garden gratitude and inner peace, and deadhead these flowers once they start looking all crusty-musty:

  • Dahlias
  • Petunias
  • Marigolds
  • Delphiniums
  • Cosmos
  • Hollyhocks
  • Geraniums
  • Roses
  • Gaillardia
  • Bee balm
  • Salvia
  • Sweet peas
  • Snapdragons
  • Zinnias
  • Marguerite daisies

After you deadhead, it’s a good idea to apply some fertilizer to ensure your plants have the necessary nutrients to produce more blooms. A flower fertilizer with slightly higher phosphorus content will work great because phosphorus is necessary for flower production and root spread. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers because nitrogen will stimulate foliage growth, and you won’t get as many flowers. 


-Dees nursery - how to deadhead flowers in the garden - basket of spent flowersIf you need any tools or have questions about deadhead pruning on Long Island, stop into Dees’ Nursery, and we can get you all set up! You’ll be mighty thankful for your newfound ability to channel your rage into something healthy and productive. Next time your favorite TV character gets killed off, instead of screaming into the abyss or kicking over a trash can, just go straight into the garden and pop off some flower heads. You’ll end up with a gorgeous flower bed and a clean criminal record!