Two simple techniques bring more blooms to your garden and produce tidier, sturdier plants. The upkeep of your annuals and perennials is easier than a cinch - it's a pinch!
Deadheading is removing the dead flowers from your plant. It stops the plant from wasting energy on seed production and encourages it to rebloom.
The purpose of petals on a flower is to attract a pollinator (bee, bird or otherwise). Once the pollinator deposits pollen onto the stigma—voila! A seed or seedpod is born, goodbye flower.
If you halt this process, by deadheading the flower, the plant starts the process again and reblooms.
Reproduction is everything to a plant. It'll keep attempting to create offspring until winter either kills the annual or forces the perennial into hibernation. Snip, snap and remove dead flowers and you'll be rewarded with many reblooms all season long.
Perennials or Annuals (Depending on climate zone):
Marigolds (Tagetes spp.)
Remember, if your plant is a perennial, stop deadheading six to eight weeks before the first frost. This allows the plant the time it needs to go to seed and store energy for the cold months ahead. You won’t have this issue with annuals though, as they die with the cold weather. If you want to replant them the following year, stop deadheading before the frost and let the flowers go to seed.
Using your fingers or clean garden scissors, snap or snip the flower at the base of its stalk. If the flowers are growing in a cluster from the same stalk, take only the flower head.
Pinching is quite literally the simple act of using the forefinger and thumb to squeeze off the tip of the main growing stem, which increases the density of herbaceous annuals and perennials.
Pinching off the top tells the plant to stop growing vertically. The plant reacts by sprouting secondary stems from tiny nodes on the mainstem in order to produce seeds and start the next generation.
The pinching technique also creates a more full, compact plant, lending a pleasing shape to borders and garden foregrounds.
Though it may be difficult to maul something one’s nurtured from a seed, pinching when plants are young and herbaceous (rather than woody) results in sturdier growth and bright, colorful gardens.
Plants like larkspur especially benefit particularly from pinching. The flowers grow on a stalk, and all those stems lead to more flowers from one plant.
Most plants benefit from pinching when they’re still young. Simply take off the tip of the main growing stem. Depending on the plant, it may be an inch of stem or just a few tiny leaves. Then, in a week or so you should see new growth sprouting from the lateral buds where the leaf meets the stem.
While the plant is still herbaceous you can use your hands. Though if you prefer, you can also use a sharp pair of garden scissors. And remember, sharp scissors are clean scissors. Wipe ‘em down with rubbing alcohol after use.
Indeterminate tomatoes (those that flower all season long) can be deadheaded, though they should never be topped. This causes the plant to ripen any fruit left on the vines and shut down for the year. While this is a great idea a few weeks before the arrival of freezing temperatures, stick to deadheading during the warm weather and maximize your crop.
Conversely, pepper and chili plants benefit from topping. Cut the entire top off the plant after it’s reached 12 to 14 inches, leaving only a few leaves. It will branch into a Y shape, making a larger plant that produces more fruit.