I thought I was through talking about pruning but a look around my yard reminded me that pruning can be applied to woody perennials, not just trees and shrubs.
This week we will talk about deadheading.
No I am not talking about deadheads that were fans of the rock band, the Grateful Dead. And no, I am not talking about the practice of commercial airplanes or trains that are on a return trip without carrying freight or passengers. I am referring to the practice of removing spent flower heads. If you have ever removed brown, no-longer-attractive blossoms to make your plants more beautiful, then you were partaking in this practice.
Deadheading can stimulate a second wave of blooms and thereby prolong the flowering season. This second flush of flowers is usually smaller than the first but can still be very attractive.
Another reason to deadhead is to remove blossoms before they go to seed. If your perennials are prolific self-seeders and you don't want to mess with these new seedlings, this is the way to go. Rabbitbrush could easily qualify for this category.
Deadheading may also be called for when the foliage of your plants is more attractive than the flowers. Silver-leafed plants like sage and lavender cotton are examples that could fall into this category. Deadheading will also allow plants to put more energy back into foliage and roots instead of seeds.
But deadheading does come with a caveat. Some plants have spent flower heads that are attractive in their own right and provide interest, especially during the dull days of winter. I personally do very little deadheading in my yard with the exception of salvia, catmint and yarrows. I like a second wave of flowers from these plants. I leave pruning or deadheading of rabbitbrush, Russian sage, dark knight spirea and hummingbird mint until the spring.
Tools can involve hand shears for removal of one flower head at a time, or can be done en mass on plants with many blooms with hand hedge shears, electric hedge trimmers and even electric or gas weed whackers. But leave the chainsaws in the garage!
Before I close this column I would like to remind everyone to come and enjoy Cedaredge's AppleFest Oct. 5 and 6. The Cedaredge Tree Board will again sponsor a booth on Saturday and be available with Master Gardeners to answer any and all questions you may have about gardening. We will have a drawing for three very nice deciduous trees. You will find us in the middle of Main Street in front of the town hall. Even if you haven't any gardening questions, stop by and enter our drawing. There will be three winners.
Next time I'll give the overdue talk on the birds and the bees. Until then, enjoy our early fall flower colors provided by rabbitbrush, sunflowers, Russian sage, hummingbird mint, dark knight spirea and rose of sharon, to mention a few. And do get out there and enjoy your garden.
Jim Leser retired to Cedaredge after a career with Texas A&M University Extension in entomology. He is a member of the Cedaredge Tree Board and a master gardener.blog comments powered by Disqus