But another chore that is often overlooked is deadheading – this is required throughout the growing season. It involves removing spent flower heads to promote fresh growth. But, as simple as it sounds, there are still mistakes that can be made when it comes to stopping completely. If you’re keen to know what not to do, we’ve listed seven of the most common mistakes here.
Avoid these things, and your plants will thank you for it.
1. Cutting at the wrong point
First, you’ll need to make sure you don’t cut too much, otherwise you may stunt their growth and any new blooms, leaving you with nothing but bare stems next season. The best position for a cut is usually just below the spent flower, above the first bud, leaf node or leaf cluster. It is best to cut at a diagonal angle to discourage disease, as this prevents water from pooling on the surface of the cut easily.
Alternatively, you can pinch the spent flower with your finger and thumb. This literally removes the head, leaving the stem intact. The best method will vary depending on the type of plant you’re dealing with. For some, a finger-and-thumb treatment will be ideal and convenient, but others may require cutting if the stem is particularly tough, or you’re worried about the seeds spilling during the process. Cutting can also prevent accidental tears, which prevents disease.
2. Not sterilizing pruning shears
As you move from one plant to another with your pruning shears, you are very likely to encounter disease. If you kill an infected plant and then transfer it to another, you spread the disease through your tools. For this reason, you should always sterilize the blades between cuts. This may seem excessive, but it can prevent widespread damage.
To disinfect your pruning shears, you need to wipe the blades with a cloth dampened with denatured alcohol between each cut. Carry the cloth with you as you continue deadheading and pruning. It is also important that you clean your tools once you are done and before storing. Applying WD-40 or mineral oil through a cloth to the pruning shears will remove any sap or debris. This will ultimately improve the life of this tool.
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3. Not taking your time
It’s very easy to get carried away when it comes to decluttering, especially when it comes to creating a tidier look. The problem is that you may end up cutting off what you don’t intend to do when you rush through this chore. This can be harmful to your plant, especially if spent flower heads look similar to new ones. This is the case with dahlias – as they wilt, it is obvious which heads need to be removed, but if you get past this point, the remains look very similar to fresh buds.
The trick here is to take your time and know what to look for. In the case of dahlias, the pointed bud shape gives a spent bloom, versus a fresh, plump, round bud, which has not yet bloomed. Do your research, make sure you’re clear on what you’re removing, and take your time during the process. Some plants may not even require removing the heads. For example, fuchsia will drop flowers on its own, as will begonia.
4. Not using the best pruning shears
If your pruning shears rub or feel uncomfortable with prolonged use, you’re not making this chore any easier. Furthermore, these tools can easily become blunt, creating jagged cuts in your plants that can tear them and encourage disease. This is why it is essential that you use it The best pruning shears Up to the task – your plants will receive a clean cut as part of the deadheading process, and you’ll feel comfortable and confident the whole time.
To help you choose, we tested a range of pruning shears, both bypass and anvil, to find the ones that offer the best comfort, performance and longevity. Pair these with a pair of The best gardening glovesDowntime will seem less daunting. If you’re dealing with small, fragile plants that require precision, a pair of garden snips can be another useful tool, such as the VIVOSUN 6.5-inch Gardening Shears ($6, Amazon).
5. Do not fertilize
Composting recycles organic food waste and plant materials into nutrient-rich soil to give back to our yards. Therefore we must take advantage of all the advantages, even though they exist 11 things you should never throw in the compost pile. But deadheading remains are a perfect fit for the compost pile, so keep your spent flowers here instead of in the trash. However, if you suspect a disease, don’t throw these items into the compost – it probably won’t reach a high enough temperature to kill such organisms.
6. Lack of optimal exploitation of seeds
Keep in mind that your plants will self-seed shortly after flowering. Deadheading can proactively remove these seed pods and encourage future flowering. But, you can also collect these seeds if you choose to plant them elsewhere later – or let them fall into place. Bearing this in mind, it may be best to kill off some of the dead flowers, while leaving other wilted flowers intact.
In addition, many seeds provide food for local wildlife, which can be beneficial when birds, small mammals and insects are struggling. So it may not always be the solution. Some seed heads can produce an attractive finish to add decor to your garden during the winter too, such as poppies, hydrangeas and alliums.
7. Not doing it in a timely manner
There is a time and place for dead ends. Although encouraged throughout the growing season, deadheading once temperatures drop in fall is not a good idea. First, your plants are better off overwintering with spent flowers in place, and cutting them off makes them more vulnerable to frost. Secondly, this is the time of year when wildlife will really struggle to find food, and by removing those spent flowers, you are removing a potential food source. paying off Feeding birds in winter – the most important tips and what to avoid.
Otherwise, it is best to carry out deadheading as soon as you notice that the flower is starting to wilt. This is indicated by wilting and browning. Follow a routine of checking your garden regularly for spent flowers and deadheads when needed. This will keep the process continuous rather than having to cut off an abundance of spent flowers in one sitting.