Remove Faded Flowers? Yes and No! - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Remove Faded Flowers? Yes and No!

Taking time to remove spent blossoms from your shrubs and garden flowers can pay off with more attractive, healthier plantings. The removal of dead flowers is often referred to as “deadheading.”

Though it often seems like a big bother, pinching or pruning off dead flowers helps keep plants looking cleaner and prevents them from producing fruit and seed. This allows the plants to put more of their resources into root and foliage growth and development of flowers again next year or later this season, depending on the species. For plants that have a season of bloom, such as garden flowers, the formation of fruit and seed can signal the plant to stop flowering, since its job of reproducing through seed has been accomplished. Removing the blooms before the seed forms will encourage the plant to produce more flowers.

Most garden flowers can be pinched with the thumb and forefinger to remove spent blossoms or, for slightly tougher stems, cut with scissors. For shrubs such as lilac and rhododendron, it is best to use a hand-pruner to make a clean cut. Throw the trimmings onto the compost pile.

On the other hand, the fruits of some plants are part of the overall ornamental character, such as honeysuckle and viburnum berries, bittersweet fruit clusters, or money plant and hydrangea pods. The fruits of these plants can be left on until they fade and become unattractive.

Some gardeners like to collect seed to grow new plants from their garden favorites. Although many plants don’t come back true to the parent from seed, you can find some interesting variations in your new seedlings. If seeds for propagation are your goal, leave the fruits on the plant until they are completely ripe and the seeds inside have become hard. Some seeds will need special handling, such as a cold, moist treatment, or perhaps a scratching of the hard seed coat, before they can germinate a new plant. Each plant species may have a different procedure for pre-germination treatment, so consult a reliable reference book or an experienced gardener to make sure you give your seeds the proper handling.


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