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By Dani Hemmat

Deadheading in July (and other important but low-energy gardening tasks)


Dani Hemmat

Katy Bohn shows the importance of deadheading to keep blooms coming in her hummingbird garden

You tilled, planted, hoed and weeded, so all that’s left to do is sit back in the July heat with a tall glass of lemonade and enjoy those beautiful blossoms.

Well, not if you want to do it right. With a little bit of daily maintenance, you can enjoy nature’s second bloom as summer’s heat wears on. That daily task is known as deadheading, and it has nothing to do with dreadlocks or tie-dye shirts, unless you want it to.

Deadheading is the term for the simple process of removing the dead or faded blooms from a plant to improve not only its appearance, but also its performance. In fact, many annuals and perennials will bloom well into the late growing season with regular deadheading.

Why does deadheading work? When flowers fade, the plant knows it’s time to put its energy into forming a seed pod. When you deadhead and pinch, snap or cut off that fading flower, the plant thinks it is time to put more energy back into blooming.

And it’s easy. Simply pinch or cut off the flower stem below the faded bloom, but just above the full, healthy leaves. Not all plants respond ideally to deadheading, but some examples of those that do are petunias, geraniums, marigolds, nasturtiums, lupines, coneflowers, Shasta daisies, salvia, phlox, delphinium, and bleeding hearts.

Katy Bohn of Gunbarrel is typically out in her Heatherwood garden for about 30 minutes each morning and evening, deadheading and weeding her abundant flower garden on Kincross Way.

Bohn, a software engineer for IBM who works from home, plants strategically to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. She said that most weekends, she spends hours in her garden, which is designed with Chinese, Japanese, and French garden accents. She focuses on deadheading the plants that give her the most bang for her buck, such as zinnias, marigolds and cosmos.

Dani Hemmat

The Chinese character for “garden”, one of many thoughtful touches in Bohn’s abundant gardens.

“Deadheading plants is important for two reasons,” she said. “One, for plants that bloom again and again, the color lasts longer. And for plants that may not bloom again, like tulips or lillies, you get rid of spent blossoms and then the plant can focus on getting its roots ready for winter.”

While it can seem like a tedious and never-ending task, the simple act of walking past those potted petunias and pinching off wilted flowers can enhance your garden late into the summer, letting you enjoy the blooms of your labor long after you’ve put down that shovel.

Also in July, remember that watering is important, but when you water matters, too. Try and water early in the morning, before 9 a.m. to get the biggest bang for your buck and to avoid loss from evaporation.


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