When it comes to caring for plants, it is important to understand what you need to do to care for your specific type of plant.
If you are new to the world of gardening, you will quickly learn that just about every plant has different requirements in terms of sunlight, shade, soil, and water. Knowing what your plant needs is key to making sure that you can care for it on your own.
Some plants do not need a lot of extra care, such as most succulents. Other plants need a considerable amount of attention and tending to, whether this involves pruning the plant, deadheading it, or just simply making sure that there are no bugs feasting on the plant’s leaves.
At first, it can be tough to find your level of expertise and comfort when it comes to tending to plants.
If you are new to gardening, there may be some terms and processes that you are unfamiliar with. For example, not a lot of beginners know what it means to deadhead a plant.
For plants such as geraniums and roses, deadheading is a crucial part of the plant’s life cycle. With these types of plants, it is important for you to know what you are doing so that you can get as many blossoms out of the plant as possible.
First things first, you need to consider what your plant needs. Take geraniums for example. Geraniums are a fairly popular plant, both for its beauty and because it is quite easy to care for.
It requires some work that other plants don’t require: pruning and deadheading. Pruning is a straightforward practice, but deadheading is something that you may not know what to do about.
If you want to make the most out of your geranium, then you should first get a good understanding of what it means to deadhead a plant and why it is important.
What Does it Mean to Deadhead a Plant?
Deadheading plants is a crucial process if you want to have as many blossoms from your flower as possible.
Deadheading happens for both annuals and perennials. It is commonly done both for the sake of appearance for your plant and because it encourages the plant to put out more blossoms.
To put it simply, deadheading is the practice of removing dead blossoms from the plant. People who are avid deadheaders will usually remove the flower as soon as it begins to fade and lose its color.
Most other people wait until the blossom is visibly wilted and dead. From here, it is as simple as cutting in the right area to allow another blossom to take the place of the dead one.
The thought behind this is that after a flower dies and begins to wilt, the plant begins producing seeds so that it can spread itself across the area and plant more of itself. This, just like how pregnancy in people is an arduous task, takes a considerable amount of energy for the plant.
When the plant is focusing all its energy on producing seeds, this takes away from any energy that would go toward producing more blossoms.
By deadheading the plant, it keeps the plant’s focus on the flowers, which encourages more to bloom when the dead one was deadheaded properly.
This means that both annuals and perennials can bloom throughout the entire growing season, rather than just for one week at a time. For perennials, it is believed that it also strengthens the plant’s ability to produce flowers each season.
While it can be somewhat time-consuming depending on the type of plant you are working with, the result of more blossoms and stronger flowers is well worth it to just about anyone who wants to take up gardening as a hobby.
When Should You Deadhead Your Geraniums?
Deadheading traditionally happens when the flower begins to fade, wilt, and die. With geraniums, people recommend that you begin the deadheading process when you see flowers beginning to turn brown, or if you want to be on top of things, when the flowers first appear weak and pallid.
The time that this happens will depend entirely on your plant’s condition, how the weather has been, and how strong its blossoms are, so it is hard to determine a specific time you should begin looking for weak flowers.
Once you begin the process of regular deadheading, it will depend on how avid you want to be at getting as many blossoms as possible. If you just want to improve its appearance and blossom output, then you can often get away with waiting a few weeks in between deadheading sessions.
This will often mean that there will be more dead flowers to deadhead, but it also means that you won’t have to worry about it again for another few weeks.
On the other hand, if you want to maximize flower output, then you can consider checking every day for dead and dying flowers. This will help you deadhead as many weak or dying flowers as possible, and it will often only take a few minutes, if that, when you are doing it on a daily basis.
Doing things this way may require work on a daily basis, but it will be far less and far easier to do all at once.
How Do You Go About Doing It?
Deadheading a geranium is a very, very easy process. Even people who are beginners in gardening can get the job done, so long as they exercise caution.
After all, you don’t want to cause excessive damage to the plant while deadheading, as the plant will begin spending resources to recover from that damage and begin producing fewer blossoms.
To begin deadheading your plant, you can start by pulling off the dying flower. You will generally be cutting slightly farther down than where the flower meets the stem, so you don’t have to worry too much about pulling off the flower.
There should be a point between the geranium’s joint and stem that you can feel. This will generally be a bit deeper into the plant than you might think. Once you find this point, you should snap it.
Some people use their hands to get the job done, while other people might prefer the precision that shears offer. This process will be notably easier if your plant has been well-watered and is as healthy as possible, as the stems will be strong, ripe, and easy to snap.
Within a few days, you will be able to notice new blooms emerging from the areas where you deadheaded.
When Should You Stop?
It is hard to determine a point where you should stop deadheading. In a sense, it is completely up to you, as it depends on how long you want to keep doing the process.
It also depends on how many blossoms you want to get from your geranium. There is no certain number that you should stop deadheading at, as everything is up to you and your preferences.
With that being said, there is no point in deadheading close to the end of the growing season for the plant. During this time, your geranium will shift its priorities to producing and spreading seeds and will stop focusing on putting out blossoms.
At this point, deadheading begins removing blossoms for nothing in return. Of course, you can still continue deadheading in the hopes that maybe one or two more blossoms will appear, but the rule of thumb is that you should stop deadheading around the end of the blooming season.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.
Monday 18th of July 2022
what if part of the geranium is dead, but also has new buds on it.? Do you still dead head the whole thing , or let the new buds come out and bloom?
Tuesday 28th of June 2022
Thanks Lisa. My geraniums are all on pots and some are leggy. Should I deadhead them at this point or wait until Autumn? I'm in Zone 17.
Tuesday 28th of June 2022
Hi Jen, You can deadhead them now if you want. If you would like to prune them to make them more bushy and less leggy, you might want to wait until autumn for that. I have another article that goes into detail about this process if you'd like to check it out. https://thepracticalplanter.com/how-to-make-geraniums-bushy/
Happy Planting! Lisa