How, When & Why To Deadhead Flowers

by Marty Ross

Deadheading flowers properly—and at the right time—can help keep plants healthy and beautiful much longer into the fall. Take care of your flowers with routine maintenance that includes deadheading, and you'll have gorgeous floral displays all season long!

Why should you deadhead?

Deadheading on a regular basis encourages new flower buds to bloom and fosters a healthy plant overall. By removing dead flowers, you help direct the plant's energy into producing new blooms, rather than focusing on producing seeds. New seeds aren't needed until the end of the growing season in preparation for the next year.

When should you deadhead?

You should start deadheading early, right when you begin to see the first few blooms, and end late in the season. You'll want to stop deadheading once the weather gets cooler so the plants can reseed themselves and come back bigger and even more beautiful next spring.

How should you deadhead?

Using the proper tools is an important part of the process as they can ensure the clipping and snipping of spent buds doesn't do any damage to the plant. If you take shortcuts—and rely on using your hand to remove the blooms—you can accidentally strip the stems, making them more vulnerable to damage.

Step-by-step tutorial for deadheading

Step 1
Clean up your flowers.
Begin by snipping off spent flowers by cutting to the first set of leaves beneath the flower head. Pruning at this level will encourage new blooms to grow while keeping the plant in good health. Try using a Fiskars pruning micro-tip snip for this job since the stem should be fairly thin so high up and close to the flower bud.

Step 2
Remove dead flower buds.
I suggest checking in on your flower beds on a weekly basis to check for new growth or any buds that are past their prime. Removing dead flowers encourages new blooms to grow, so keeping up with this regular deadheading will give you many additional flower buds in the long run.

Step 3
Remove broken flower stems.
Next, using a Fiskars pruner, remove broken stems. I suggest a weekly check-in to assess any damage from summer storms or neighborhood critters.

Step 4
Build a bouquet.
Tidying up flower beds is great for the plants outside, but it's okay to remove flowers before they die to enjoy indoors, too! While deadheading and pruning each week, grab a few of the best buds to build a bouquet for yourself or give as a sweet homegrown gift.