Deadheading Bachelor’s Buttons: Learn When To Cut Back Bachelor’s Buttons

faded cornflower
Image by Sarah Sammis

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Bachelor’s buttons, also known as cornflower or bluebottle, are old-fashioned flowers that reseed themselves generously from year to year. Should I deadhead bachelor’s button plants? These hardy annuals grow wild across much of the country, and although they require little care, pruning and deadheading bachelor’s buttons prolongs the blooming season. Read on and learn how to prune a bachelor’s button.

When to Cut Back Bachelor’s Buttons

Feel free to cut back a bachelor’s button plant by about a third of its height about midsummer, or any time the plant looks scraggly and flowering begins to slow. Cutting back bachelor’s buttons tidies the plant and encourages it to put forth a new flush of flowers.

Deadheading bachelor’s buttons, on the other hand, should be done continuously throughout the blooming season. Why? Because bachelor’s buttons, like all plants, exist primarily to reproduce; when flowers wilt, seeds follow. Deadheading tricks the plant into blooming until the weather cools in late summer or early autumn.


Deadheading bachelor’s buttons is a simple task – just remove blooms as soon as they wilt. Use pruning shears, scissors or your fingernails to snip stems below the wilted flower, just above the next leaf or bud.

If you want the plant to reseed itself for blooms the following year, leave a few flowers on the plant at the end of the season. If you’re too diligent about deadheading, the plant will have no way to form seeds.

Collecting Bachelor’s Buttons Seeds

If you want to collect the seeds, let the flower wilt on the plant and watch for a seed head to develop at the base of the bloom. Roll the seed heads between your fingers to remove the wing-shaped seeds. Put the seeds in a paper sack until they are completely dry and brittle, then store them in a paper envelope in a cool, dry location.

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