These popular plants are versatile and can work in many different spaces. Although it is often one of the best plants for hanging baskets, it is also commonly seen in flower beds, suitable for a cottage garden border and ideal for container gardens. There are many different types of dianthus to choose from, including perennials and biennials.
We take a closer look at when and how to cut back dead dianthus to help you have more beautiful flowers to enjoy and make sure your plant looks tidy wherever it is in your backyard.
Are you dead dianthus?
Deadheading is an important horticultural task that involves removing old flower buds from plants. By removing old flowers, it maintains the appearance and restores the plant’s energy to make new flowers. People usually deadhead roses and deadhead dahlias, among many other things, so why not deadhead dianthus to keep them looking tidy and full of blooms longer.
Dianthus are hardy plants that like to grow in a sunny location in fertile, well-drained soil. Wherever you grow dianthus, it is important that you kill spent flowers to prevent the plant from focusing on producing seeds at the expense of flowers.
Gardening expert Camilla Phelps claims that watering, feeding and deadheading are all vital to making sure your dianthus plants bloom profusely for as long as possible. She recommends: “Start the growing season with a dose of general fertilizer, followed by liquid feeds through the summer, and deadheading regularly to keep those flowers coming.”
So, if you are wondering, does dianthus need deadheading, the answer is yes. Not only will deadheading dianthus help keep the flowers in bloom longer, it will also keep the plant looking neat and tidy. Be sure to add the task to your to-do list if you are growing dianthus.
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An expert gardener, Camilla has designed planting schemes for large and small gardens in the UK, as well as working on BBC TV gardening programmes. She has also written a wide range of articles on plants and how to grow them, to which she is a regular contributor Amateur gardening magazine.
When does dianthus deadheading start?
Dianthus can flower spring through fall, likely starting in May and flowering all the way through October. This will depend on when you sow seeds or place plants in their final position, as well as on the climate in your U.S. hardiness zone.
You want to start cutting off dead flowers as soon as they start to appear. The flower will begin to decline and eventually turn brown, looking unsightly and also increasing the risk of diseases affecting the plant. A good time to start deadheading is as soon as you notice that the flowers are starting to fall, look for signs of the petals starting to wilt and fall off. No one wants a plant covered in dead, brown flowers instead of one full of bright blooms.
How to Dead Dianthus
Deadheading is a very simple gardening task that requires few tools, or sometimes no tools at all. It is recommended to check the plant often and make deadheading a regular part of your routine throughout the summer.
Spent flower buds can be pinched between the thumb and index finger, or pruning shears can be used. If you use pruning shears, be sure to use clean garden tools to make clean cuts and not damage the plant. One example of a good pair of pruning shears for deadheading dianthus are the small tip pruning shears available on Amazon.
Camilla Phelps advises: “Once the flower is consumed, remove the deadhead by removing the entire stem (not just the flower head), to prevent the plant from becoming leggy and unkempt.”
As Camilla explains, it’s best to identify a flower that has overgrown and trace its stem down to make a clean cut at the base of the stem, where it meets another side stem or crown. Do this carefully to ensure you do not damage any other flowers or unopened buds, and repeat this process for all spent flower heads that need removing.
She adds to make sure you also inspect the plant and “remove dead and damaged foliage” regularly to stop the spread of diseases. Removing dead or diseased foliage and flowers can be one way to help control the spread of many common diseases, including powdery mildew.
Should dianthus be cut for the winter?
After the dianthus plant has finished flowering for the season, which can continue into the fall, it should be lowered back to ground level. Trim the stems back to leave just an inch or two showing above ground level. Dianthus becomes dormant during the winter and will put its energy into surviving the colder months in preparation to start growing again come spring.
John Negus, a highly experienced gardener, claims that cutting the stems after flowering can help extend the life of some dianthus plants. “Many of them are short-lived perennials that are typically treated as biennials, meaning they grow leaves one year and bloom the next,” he says. “It is possible to grow them for a second summer if their flower stalks are removed after flowering, but they may not be Good the second time.
John has been a garden journalist for over 50 years and regularly answers readers’ questions Amateur gardening Magazine, including many evergreen shrubs. He has also written four books and given numerous lectures over the years on gardening.
Dianthus are also excellent choices if you’re planning a cut flower garden. They are wonderful garden flowers thanks to the wide variety of colors they come in, and they have a long life when cut and displayed in a vase.