Even those with a proverbial “black thumb” can find it hard to resist planting up a pot or two come summer. Especially if you live in an area that doesn’t see much color all winter long, it’s easy to get drawn in to the nurseries and garden centers that are overflowing with annuals and perennials, herbs and flowering shrubs.
Even easier when there are more low-maintenance options than ever before, promising non-stop blooms all summer long.
But here’s the one thing I always do right after I plant, mulch and water: I pinch off all the flowers.
Here’s a small container I planted with some verbena:
And here’s what it looked like shortly after I planted it:
While looking at a bunch of leaves after all of your hard work is not the most satisfying of experiences, TRUST ME – it will pay off.
See, once the flowers on a plant are finished blooming, the plant begins to put its energy into producing seeds. By removing the spent blooms promptly – also known as “deadheading” – you are tricking the plant into continuing to produce flowers. Basically you are saying to the plant, “Not just yet – let’s work on blooms for a while longer” (do you talk to your plants too?).
This does no harm to the plant and can extend the bloom time right into fall.
How to do it? Simply pinch or cut the spent flower at the base of its stem. This will not only get rid of that flower but also eliminate the appearance of an unsightly stem. Continue watering regularly and in about a week you’ll see new buds form:
And within 1 – 2 weeks you’ll have a fresh new set of blooms:
If you are planning your planting around a special event, either plant 2 weeks prior or wait to deadhead till after.