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Why deadheading is the secret to longer lasting blooms and how to get it right

By Rachael Gavin|

When the flowers on your plants start to go brown, loose petals or turn crispy, it's time to deadhead them. This gardening technique allows for another flush of blooms, and more energy for the plant to spend on producing more flowers.

Before you get started deadheading make sure you've got a good set of pruners, snips or shears on hand. It also makes things easier to have a bucket or something to collect your stems and dead flowers in ?to take to your green bin.

Deadheading is basically cutting off the old blooms, but there's a little more to it than just chopping off a flower and getting it right can make a huge difference to your plants.

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Gardening
Deadheading involves cutting off spent blooms, but needs to be done at the right spot. (Supplied/Fiskars)

To find out the best technique for deadheading and what we might be doing wrong, 9Honey Living spoke to Karl Bitzer, national account manager at Fiskars.

Why is deadheading flowering plants important??

Deadheading is an important task to keep up within the garden throughout the growing season. Most flowers lose their attraction as they fade. As flowers begin to fade post pollination and shed their petals they began to form seed heads. When forming seeds, the plant's energy is focused on the development of the seeds, rather than flowers.?

For plants such as roses that are not food producing crops, regular deadheading channels energy into the stem and new growth, resulting in healthier plants and more blooms.

For food producing plants, such as fruit trees deadheading is not required as the seeds are required for the propagation and production of the food. Some plants also neatly deadhead themselves.?

What mistakes do people make with deadheading flowering plants??

The most common mistake made is not deadheading down far enough. As a general rule, it should be pruned to the next set of new, healthy leaves or buds. If not done to this level, the plant can develop disease and may not reach its full growing or flowering capacity. This can vary for different species.?

Another mistake is where to cut. Make sure to cut above an outward-facing bud. This way, the new shoots have enough room to develop and won't grow inward towards the tree or shrub.?

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Gardening
Not all flowers require deadheading and some need it at different times. (Supplied/Fiskars)

What is the correct technique for deadheading?

The correct way to deadhead is to remove the flower stem right below the spent flower and above the next set of healthy leaves. You can use garden snips, such as the Fiskars Solid Pruning Snips SP15, Solid Pruning Floral Snip SP14 or Solid Micro Snips SP13, ensuring that you also remove any seed pods that may have started to form behind the flowers.?

When you're ready, just follow these steps:?

Time your deadheading: This happens throughout the growing season, any time the flowers begin to fade. This is easy to see in single flowers on single stems. Plants with multiple blooms on a stem, such as begonias, should be deadheaded once 70 per cent of the blooms have faded.?

How often to deadhead depends on the specific plant and the weather. You may also want to allow certain plants the opportunity to go to seed as they have attractive and beneficial seed heads, providing food to birds.?

Choose a deadhead cutting point: Where to deadhead or prune a plant can change depending on the species, however as a general rule, deadhead the flowers and stems back to 1cm above the new flower, leaf or bud. This encourages new growth and healthy foliage.?

Make the deadhead cut: Although some plants can simply be pinched, snips provide the ability to quickly reach into a plant and make a clean, tidy cut with minimal damage to the plant.

Larger stems, such as roses, may require a tool with larger cutting capacity, such as a pruner. The Fiskars Solid, Plus and X-Series pruners provide a variety of options in cutting capacity and also technology.?

Although many annuals and perennials can be deadheaded by just removing faded blooms, there are a few deadheading techniques that are best suited to perennials.?

READ MORE: Seven flowers you need to plant in autumn to have beautiful blooms by spring?

Gardening
A good pair of snips will make the process easier and the cut nice and clean. (Supplied/Fiskars)

Cutting Back Perennials: A few mounding perennials, such as coreopsis and perennial salvia, start declining in appearance no matter how often you deadhead. A hard pruning, also known as cutting back, can give plants a fresh start and keep your garden looking clean and tidy. We suggest waiting until after the majority of the blooms have faded to cut back mounding perennials. The easiest way to cut back perennials is to use hedge shears, such as Fiskars PowerGear X or PowerLever, to cut the entire plant about 5cm above the ground.?

Pinching Back Perennials: Although you aren't technically deadheading plants, pinching back certain autumn-blooming perennials during the growing season will encourage lush and full growth. While it's technically called "pinching back", you're actually cutting the growing tips plus approximately 7cm of growth.?

READ MORE: Why your roses aren't blooming as well as they should and how to fix it?

Apart from deadheading, what sort of pruning should we do to flowering plants?

Pruning is one of the most important garden maintenance tasks to improve the health and appearance of your trees, shrubs and hedges.?

Pruning helps you control the overall size, shape and density of your plants. Proper pruning promotes flowering, fruit production and renewal. Pruning allows air and sunlight to reach the plants interior, boosting its overall health and protecting it from disease.?

However, pruning should only be done when necessary C some plants don't require pruning. Unnecessary pruning will cause the plant to focus on healing instead of growing, can shorten the plant's lifespan and can make the plant susceptible to disease.?

Depending on the plant and climate, pruning of flowering plants is optimal at different times of the year. We suggest checking with your local nursery on the best times to prune depending on the plant and location in Australia you are situated, as times might vary slightly.?

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