Do All Flowers Need Deadheading: Learn About Plants You Shouldn’t Deadhead

Purple Flowered Plant
no deadhead
(Image credit: SkyF)

Deadheading is the practice of snipping off faded blossoms to encourage new flowers. Do all flowers need deadheading? No, they don’t. There are some plants you shouldn’t deadhead. Read on for information on which plants don’t require spent bloom removal.

Do All Flowers Need Deadheading?

You plant flowering shrubs in order to see those lovely blossoms open. In time, the blossoms fade and die. In many cases, you help the plant to produce more flowers by trimming off dead and wilted blossoms. This is called deadheading.

Deadheading is a simple enough procedure. You simply pinch or snip off the wilting flower’s stem, making the cut just above the next leaf nodes. This allows the plant to invest its energy in producing more flowers rather than helping seeds mature. Many plants flower better when you deadhead faded blossoms. Do all flowers need deadheading though? The simple answer is no.

Flowers You Don’t Deadhead

Some plants are “self-cleaning.” These are plants with flowers you don’t deadhead. Even when you don’t remove the old flowers, these plants keep on blooming. Which are self-cleaning plants that don’t need deadheading?

These include annual vincas that drop their flower heads when they are finished blooming. Almost all types of begonias do the same, dropping their old blooms. A few others include:

Plants You Shouldn’t Deadhead

Then there are flowering plants you shouldn’t deadhead. These are not self-cleaners, but the seed pods are ornamental after the flowers wilt and turn to seed. For example, sedum seed heads hang onto the plant through autumn and are considered very attractive.

Some Baptisia blossoms form interesting pods if you leave them on the plant. Astilbe has tall flower stalks that dry into appealing pretty plums.

Some gardeners choose not to deadhead perennials in order to allow them to self-seed. The new baby plants can fill in sparse areas or provide transplants. Great choices for self-seeding plants include hollyhock, foxglove, lobelia, and forget-me-not.

Don’t forget how much wildlife appreciates some seedpods during the winter months as well. For example, coneflower and rudbeckia seedpods are treats for birds. You’ll want to leave these seedpods on the plants and forego deadheading.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.