What is Deadheading a Plant? Garden Tips 2024

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Gardening can produce a great abundance of color but once your plants start to flower, you want to do what you can to keep the loveliness alive. One way to do this is deadheading. It is an easy but often forgotten next step.

What is deadheading a plant: As a plant’s blooms start to fade, you should engage in a task called deadheading. This is when you remove the faded blooms, either with your hands or a pair of small shears. Deadheading keeps your plants looking tidy and lessens the chance of unwanted seeds taking hold. Furthermore, it encourages the growth of new blooms, which will increase the blooming season of your plants.

What does it mean to keep a plant Deadheaded?

Despite its rather grim name, deadheading a plant is relatively simple. Once you have flowers on a plant that are dying, you can remove them. This is done either by snipping them off with a pair of scissors or even by pinching them off with your fingers.

Importance of Deadheading a Plant

Unfortunately, plants require continuous care to be the best versions of themselves. While this can seem overwhelming, when done in small steps, it can go by quite quickly.

Deadheading has a number of benefits, and once you get into the habit of it, you will quickly see the results of your efforts.

Old blossoms on plants are not very attractive and too many of them can detract from the beauty of new blossoms. By removing older, faded flowers, you can showcase the life your plant still has.

Another reason to deadhead is that old flowers want to drop their seeds, which can become quite a nuisance for the rest of your garden. Keep your flowers tidy so that new buds don’t spring up in unwanted places.

Finally, one of the most amazing reasons for deadheading is that it will actually encourage your plant to grow more flowers. Dead flowers take energy and once they are removed, that energy can be put into making more flowers, thus extending the bloom time of your plant.

How do you deadhead a plant

Step 1 – Carve out some time

Every gardener is different, so there is no right or wrong reason about how to deadhead. However, it can require a bit of time.

If you have a lot of plants that all need deadheading at the same time, you may want to carve out an hour or so for the task. However, if you just have a few plants the require maintenance, you can go about doing so while you are watering them.

Furthermore, recognize that this is an ongoing task. While you may initially need to spend more time deadheading, it should become a simple task you can do for a few minutes here and there, as the need arises.

Step 2 – Know where to cut

The good part about deadheading is that you can cut just about anywhere along the stem and it will be ok. However, different distances can have different results.

For example, if you know your plant won’t produce any more flowers, you will want to cut further down the step so that you aren’t left with a long stick from the plant.

However, if you want to encourage new growth, you should cut about half an inch below the dead flower.

Step 3 – Clean up

This next step is a matter of personal preference and will also depend on how large the blooms are that you are deadheading.

Once you remove the old blooms, you need to decide what to do with them. While smaller flowers may be left behind and eventually return to the dirt, larger ones can be major eyesores.

Furthermore, if the point is to remove blossoms with seeds, allowing them to sit on the ground will just encourage those seeds to propagate.

While it may take a bit more effort, it’s easy enough to carry a small pail with you as you go about deadheading. Simply throw the spent blooms into the pail and then empty them into your compost.

What happens if you don’t Deadhead your plant?

Out in the wild nature, plants do not have the benefit of humans deadheading them and they still continue to thrive. Generally, not deadheading your plant won’t result in any sort of dire consequences.

What will happen is that you will have a shorter bloom season as your plant won’t be encouraged to produce new, more vibrant blooms.

Your plant will also look a bit shabby and can even be an eyesore as the current blooms start to fade.

What plants do you need to deadhead?

There are actually some plants that will continue to produce new blooms, even if you do not deadhead them. However, some plants really thrive from deadheading.

Shasta daisies have a large blooming season and will continue to produce new blooms once old ones are deadheaded.

Shrub roses will produce new blooms and their large, dying flowers can detract from newer flowers.

Hydrangeas do well with deadheading, especially if you have a large bush. However, you should stop the process in mid-fall and allow any blooms to stay on to encourage new growth in the spring.

Deadheading vs Pruning: Difference?

When you deadhead a plant, you aren’t removing very much. All you are taking away is the blossom and part of the stem. The structure of the plant is not altered.

In contrast, pruning can involve cutting back almost half of the plant.

Deadheading is an ongoing chore that should be done the entire growing season. It encourages new growth and keeps your plant looking good.

Pruning is done once a year and is meant to keep a plant a certain size, encourage new growth the following year, and maintain a certain shape.


While deadheading may seem overwhelming at first, it is a task that is simple and effective. Try incorporating the task as you water your flowers and you will be rewarded with new, fresh blooms.

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