How To Keep Your Garden Blooming
I love July gardens, when perennials and annuals burst with vibrant colour, nodding their graceful and beautiful heads, bursting at their stems — but now it’s August. It’s time to tidy up.
The question we often get asked is: “What is deadheading and why is it important?”
Here are some tips on how to keep your garden blooming:
The Importance of Deadheading
Some plants only produce one set of flowers. Astilbe, for example, is one of my favourites. Once the flowers have finished blooming, that’s it. Leave their spent blooms on the plant, or if you don’t like that look, cut them off. They won’t bloom again until next year. Other plants, such as lavender, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, salvia, daylily, and all annuals will rebloom after deadheading.
We’ll focus on these re-bloomers to keep your garden blooming — the job won’t take long.
- Grab your garden shears (I love my Felco’s, I’ve had the same pair for more than 30 years)
- Get your compost or waste bin
- Put on your garden gloves
In my garden, I have tunes going too. Crank them up or slow them down, whatever mood you like, you’re at one with nature here. Time to enjoy!
Expert Tips on Deadheading
I admit it, I’m not a fan of geraniums. They require a ton of deadheading and if you miss deadheading for a few days, the whole plant will go into a coma. The key is to cut the spent blooms right back to the main stem. I can still visualize my mom popping their dead heads off with her fingers. That’s only half the job — get right inside the plant to keep it producing!
Lavender and salvia are a bit more of a challenge. The stems become leggy and woody if left on their own. Cut out the woody stems, then cut back the spent blooms as far as you need to, giving shape to the plant. Compact plants result in healthier, more robust, continuous blooms. Cruel to be kind is the answer here.
Black-eyed Susan is a wonderful addition to any summer garden. The gorgeous yellow blooms shout thanks to the sun — but be careful, Susy wants to take over your whole garden! Ensure you keep spent blooms cut back and don’t allow them to go to seed. Once they do, their season is over and they turn ugly. In the fall, split the plants to keep the clumps small.
Cone flower, bee balm, and daylilies are easy. Simply pop off their heads before they go to seed. You can even cut the flower stem back to the main stem if you like. The flower stem will dry and the plant will produce more blooms in its effort to reproduce.
When the deadheading is done and your garden looks tidy again, there’s one more very important task. With all that vigorous July growth, your plants are tired. Give them all a good dose of water soluble fertilizer. In a couple of weeks, your garden blooms will rebound and take the colours right into fall.
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Gin and tonic anyone?