When it comes to having color in your garden all summer long, it helps to channel your inner Queen of Hearts, the cantankerous queen from Alice in Wonderland, who loved to behead her subjects at the drop of a hat.
In the garden, there’s no need to feel guilty about such drastic behavior. Deadheading perennials, simply cutting off spent flowers, not only cleans up your garden, it can encourage a second flush of flowers later in the season.
Off With Their Heads
Here are five perennials I routinely deadhead in my Connecticut garden (zone 6) to keep it looking colorful and tidy:
Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) ~ Deadheading yarrow encourages more lateral blooms. When the second flush of flowers is finished, cut the stalks down to the basal foliage.
Yarrows are available in an array of colors, including yellow, pale pink, red, white and orange.
Hardy in zones 3 – 9.
Coreopsis (Tickseed) ~ Once the majority of flowers are past their prime, I give my coreopsis a quick haircut. The second round of flowers is not quite so prolific but they are a welcome sight in the late summer and fall.
There are many coreopsis cultivars on the market, includes ones with pink or red flowers and other with fluted petals.
Hardy in zones 4 – 9.
Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy) ~ Let’s face it, dead daisy flowers are pretty unattractive. Cutting off spent flowers not only cleans up the look of your garden, it also extends bloom time.
Once there are no more lateral flower buds ready to develop, cut spent flowers and their stalks down to the basal foliage to tidy up your garden.
Hardy in zones 5 – 9.
Salvia (Meadow Sage) ~ Deadheaded salvias seem to re-bloom almost overnight. I usually stop deadheading some time in late September so plants get ready for dormancy.
I have to admit that S. ‘East Friesland’ does have a tendency to look a bit ragged by the end of August but its non-stop flowering more than makes up for it.
Hardy in zones 4 – 9.
Veronica spicata (Spike speedwell) ~ One of my favorite flowers for adding a strong vertical punch to the front of the border, spike speedwell definitely benefits from routine deadheading.
Spike speedwells are typically found in shades of purple or white so the hot pink color of ‘Red Fox’ is a shocking, but welcome, change.
Hardy in zones 4 – 8.
Which perennials routinely get their heads chopped off in your garden?