Two simple techniques bring more blooms to your garden and produce tidier, sturdier plants. The upkeep of your annuals and perennials is easier than a cinch—it’s a pinch!
Deadheading is removing the dead flowers from your plant. It stops the plant from wasting energy on seed production and encourages it to rebloom.
The purpose of petals on a flower is to attract a pollinator (bee, bird or otherwise). Once the pollinator deposits pollen onto the stigma—voila! A seed or seedpod is born, goodbye flower.
If you halt this process, by deadheading the flower, the plant starts the process again and reblooms.
Reproduction is everything to a plant. It'll keep attempting to create offspring until winter either kills the annual or forces the perennial into hibernation. Snip, snap and remove dead flowers and you'll be rewarded with many reblooms all season long.
Columbine (Aquilegia hybrids), primroses (Primula), tickseed (Coreopsis), larkspur (Delphinium), coneflower (Echinacea), lupine (Lupinus), marigolds (Tagetes spp.), putunias (Petunia hybrida), roses (Rosa spp.), rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.), camellias (Camellias spp.)
If your plant is a perennial, you’ll want to stop deadheading six to eight weeks before the first frost date. Allow the plant to go to seed; leave the seeds on the plant.
Plants need time to store energy for the cold months before they enter dormancy. Completing their seed production cycle tells them their work is done and it’s time to store energy for winter.
You won’t have this issue with annuals, as they die with the first frost. If you want to save seeds for the following year, let the plants produce flowers that go to seed.
Using your fingers, or clean garden scissors, snap or snip the flower at the base of its stalk. If flowers are growing in a cluster from the same stalk, take only the flower head.
Pinching puts forefinger to thumb to pinch off the tip of the main growing stem. It increases the bushiness of certain herbaceous annuals and perennials.
Pinching off the top tells the plant, “You’re not goin’ up, so you may as well try ‘out.’” The plant sprouts secondary stems from the existing nodes on the stem. It’s trying to do what all plants want to do—produce seeds and prolong their familial legacy!
Pinching creates a bushier, more compact plant—typically a more pleasing shape in borders and garden foregrounds.
It may be difficult to maul your beloved plants, but pinching while they’re young and herbaceous (rather than woody) will make a happier, sturdier plant and a more colorful garden.
Plants with flowers that grow on spikes benefit particularly from pinching. All that branching leads to more flowers from one plant!
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum), lupine (Lupinus spp.), foxgloves (Digitalis), coleus (Coleus spp.), dusty miller (Senecio cineraria), cosmos (Cosmos spp.), sunflowers (Helianthus annuus), zinnias (Zinnea elegans), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), basil (Ocimum basilicum), mint (Mentha spp.)
Most plants benefit from pinching when they’re still young. Take off the tip of the main growing stem; it may be an inch of stem or just a few tiny leaves depending on the plant.
Within a week or so you should see new growth from the lateral buds (that’s the overlap where leaf meets stem).
While the plant is still herbaceous you can use your hands. If you prefer, you can also use clean garden scissors. Easiest cleaning method: Wipe or wash with rubbing alcohol after every use.