CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I was having a discussion with my teen daughter about deadheading the other day. And she actually seemed (somewhat?) interested.
As she was sunbathing and reading a glamour magazine, I asked her to pull the dead blooms from some of the annuals potted around the deck and the front door.
"Will that make them bloom again?" she asked. Wow. She's been listening. I said yes, quickly, but then realized I needed to amend the answer.
"Sometimes. Depends on the plant," I explained. I was losing her. So I'll explain here and hopefully she'll read this and get the gist of the subject.
Some plants will continue to flower over and over if the spent blooms are removed. According to author Tracy DiSabato-Aust, deadheading is a maintenance practice that can be done throughout the growing season, from spring until autumn.
"The best time to deadhead a flower is when its appearance begins to decline," DiSabato-Aust writes. "How often you'll have to deadhead a particular plant depends on the life span of its blooms, which can range from a day to several weeks, depending on the species. Weather also greatly affects a flower's longevity. During moist, cool summers, flowers will last much longer than they will during a season of sweltering heat. Torrential rains also take their toll on blossoms.
Other plants will not re-bloom, but will still benefit from deadheading. Not only does removing those ugly old blossoms improve the plant's appearance, it will redirect energy to root and leaf growth.
Prune spent flowers and stems back to a point where there's a new lateral flower or bud. If no new flower is apparent, prune the stem back to a lateral leaf.
Shasta daisies will produce more blooms when deadheaded.
DiSabato-Aust lists these other plants that respond to deadheading: various pinks, baby's breaths (Gypsophila paniculata), bee balms (Monarda didyma), blanket flowers (Gaillardia X grandiflora), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), columbines (Aquilegia), delphiniums (Delphinium), false sunflowers (Heliopsis helianthoides), foxgloves (Digitalis), garden phloxes (Phlox paniculata), gauras (Gaura lindheimeri), hardy begonia (Begonia grandis), hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), lavenders (Lavandula), painted daisies (Tanacetum coccineum), penstemons (Penstemon barbatus), perennial salvias (Salvia nemorosa), pincushion flowers (Scabiosa), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), spike speedwells (Veronica spicata), spiderworts (Tradescantia x andersoniana), Stokes' asters (Stokesia laevis), tickseeds (Coreopsis), upright hollyhock mallow (Malva alcea var. fastigiata), yarrows (Achillea), yellow corydalis (Corydalis lutea).
So, dear daughter -- get to work.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.