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Deadheading, Just Do It

DEADHEAD—it sounds maybe dangerous—at the least not pleasant. But, I needs to be done.  Here is why.

Flowers bloom for a reason, it has nothing  to do with making gardeners  happy.  Flowers have a serious mission—they want the world to be full of plants.  Not just any plants of course—plants  like them.

Flowers attract pollinators to allow fertilization and seed formation. That’s it.  That is what flowers want.  When they have set seeds they can and usually do, go on to the great beyond with joy—mission accomplished.

We must stop them. Plants covered with fading flowers and  seed heads  do not make for a cheerful summer  show.  Gardeners want  lots of flowers on healthy plants..  For this to happen—deadhead early and often.

Pretty Flowers But Could Be Better With Deadheading

Rudbeckia in Need of Deadheading

How to do it? It’s not at all hard.  For many plants, such as zinnias, coneflowers or cosmos cut the stem of the fading flower back to the first set of full healthy leaves.  This hides  the cut and encourages branching and new flowers.  Do not cut just below the flower.  This leaves a stem to turn brown –not at all the way to tidy up the garden.

Deadheading Cosmos

Deadheading Cosmos

For some plants, like salvias, the best plan is to shear back all the stems about two to three inches. This removes the dead flowers and encourages a fresh flush of blooms.

Be sure to collect the blooms—they are great for the compost.

Don’t forget your herbs! If you want basil for fall tomatoes keep those flowers cut—remember  they are tasty and can go straight to the kitchen.

Keep the Herbs Coming by Deadheading as shown

Keep the Herbs Coming by Deadheading as shown

More flowers—tidy garden—sounds perfect—so why the resistance??

First— summer temperatures are still with us and its hot—that’s true.  Early morning is an ideal time to go out—do a bit each day and things won’t get out of hand.  Evening works too—just don’t put it off.

You will be rewarded. You will see things that might well have been missed.  A quick visit by a hummingbird,  a just hatched baby anole or delicate lace wing eggs that look like a tiny modern sculpture.

A Reward-Lacewing Egg Sighting

A Reward-Lacewing Egg Sighting

What about bees and butterflies? .

Are they still using those flowers? Well no, those flowers are past their prime for pollinators too. Really you are doing a big favor when you remove the old flowers—more will soon appear as the plant continues to try and fulfill its mission.

Susan

February Garden Chores

During February Dallas gardeners prepare for spring.   Several of our Dallas County Master Gardeners pruned roses at the Farmers Branch Rose Gardens and developed the confidence needed to remind us hot to tackle  17 varieties of Earth-Kind Roses at the Demonstration Garden.

We pruned the roses back to about three feet, cut out crossing and interior branches, pruned out the dead wood and excess-voila Earth-Kind Roses ready for spring.

February Rose Pruning, Mutablis Rose and Two Master Gardeners

Sarah demonstrated an ornamental grass cutting technique:  

To cut  tall grasses in a perfect mound……you go around the clump with a bungee cord, cut straight across just above the cord and pop the cord off. Sarah just happened to have a couple of bungee cords in her trunk so that we could try this technique.

Bungee Cord Wrapped Around Grass To Be Pruned

Sarah, Jackie, and Linda take it away:

Master Gardeners Cutting Back Grass

More ornamental grass pruning by Jean, Becky, Michele, and Linda:

Master Gardeners Cutting Back Grasses At The Demonstration Garden

This grass will go to the compost pile:

Clippings Going To Our Compost at The Demonstration Garden

Spring is coming and we hope you will visit us at our garden, 2311 Joe Field Road, Dallas, 75229.   Comment  if you would like to ask a question or set up tour of the gardens.

Ann

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