Deadheading of flowers

The removal of faded flowers or deadheading annuals, perennials, and roses is an important gardening chore. Deadheading prolongs the blooming period and increases the number of later season blooms.


Pinch off the faded flowers on annuals, such as petunias, geraniums, marigolds, zinnias, and snapdragons, on a regular basis to prevent seed formation and promote additional flowering.


The flowering period of many perennials, such as coreopsis, garden phlox, and shasta daisy, can also be prolonged by deadheading. Delphiniums may bloom a second time in late summer if the old stems are cut back after flowering.


There are 2 types of compound leaves on the stems of roses. Hybrid tea roses usually have one or two 3-leaflet leaves immediately below the blossom. Next are two or more 5 leaflet leaves. Understanding this leaf arrangement is important as the procedure for deadheading roses during the first growing season differs from established roses. On a recently planted rose, remove the faded flower above the uppermost 3-leaflet leaf.

Removing a large amount of foliage reduces the young plant's food manufacturing capacity and may weaken it. When deadheading established roses, cut the stem back to an outward-facing, 5-leaflet leaf. Retain at least two 5 leaflet leaves on each shoot. Use sharp tools (hand shears or knife) to remove the faded flowers. Cut about 1/4 inch above the leaf with the cut made parallel to the angle of the leaf.

This article originally appeared in the June 28, 1996 issue, p. 110.


Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on June 28, 1996. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.