Just kidding, i didn’t become a Deadhead and abandon the garden: i was trimming the flowers. A well known-and sometimes dreaded (pun intended)- garden pastime is deadheading old bloomed flowers. This simply means cutting off the flower to prevent the plant from producing its seed- which you’ll recall, if you were paying attention in class, is the ultimate purpose of a flower.
Deadheading is good for many things:
- it prevents plants from self-seeding and taking over your garden (though, some annuals need to seed if you want them next year!)
- it forces the plant the produce more flowers
- it keeps the garden looking tidy, thus less likely to tick off the neighbors
I usually use a skinny pair of scissors, so i can get really close to the next leaf down without damaging it, trying to get as close to the base of the flower stem as possible. If you simply cut the flower head off, you’ll be left with a few inches of dying stem. Here’s a sunflower that i cut last week, and it’s already sending up 2 more buds. The following buds tend to be a bit smaller than the previous flower. If you’re really keeping on top of the dead flowers, you can stress out the plant if you’re not feeding it: flowers take a lot of nutrients and energy to produce. I’ve been adding an occasional side dressing of compost or worm castings (if i can get my hands on some), and the plants seem to be fairing well so far.
I leave the cut sunflowers on the ground for the birds and squirrels (if they eat those, maybe they’ll leave my veggies alone), and in the fall, i’ll let the sunflowers go to seed and leave them on the stalk for the migratory birds on their way back home. For now, the flowers are attracting some local goldfinches, tons of bees, and a few different species of butterflies. Peace, dude.