Deadheading & De-Seeding
For my fellow Grateful Dead fans (a.k.a Dead Heads), this is not going to be about what you may have initially thought.
As a garden guy, when I talk about "deadheading," it pertains to plants and removing spent flowers.
Many people use deadheading just to keep ugly, shriveled-up flowers from marring the appearance of the plant. But without deadheading, some annuals will "peter out" prematurely, robbing the landscape of their color. So, another benefit of deadheading is that it allows a plant you may have thought was spent to produce another burst of blooms, prolonging its bloom season.
De-seeding, or "pinching," is sort of an off-shoot of deadheading. Botanically speaking, to "pinch" is to remove the top or central growing point to encourage side shoots to develop and create a bushier plant. We "pinch" the growing tips of coleus, for example, to develop a full, compact shape. Some annuals, like coleus, if left to go to seed, will stop filling out and become "leggy." For the same reason, pinching is also important with herbs. Even worse, herbs become more bitter-tasting if left to go to seed.
Whichever term you want to use, just be sure to do it so you can have longer bloom cycles and fuller plants.
Pinching tricks most flowering plants into continuing to set buds long past the point when they would ordinarily have stopped. (When I refer to "flowering plants," I usually mean annuals. But deadheading is wise for many perennials, too.)
A colleague, Brenda Beust Smith (a.k.a The Lazy Gardener), put it this way: "Plants don't bloom for our enjoyment. They bloom to produce seed to continue the species. Flowers are the first step. Once x number of flowers start turning to seed, the plant stops producing buds. Remove the flower before that message is sent … and the plant will continue to try and meet its quota."
Some flowering plants can be deadheaded simply by pinching off the dead or dried-up flowers. On others, you may need pruning shears or scissors. But, the beauty of deadheading or de-seeding is that it promotes more flowering.
And for my fellow Dead Heads, I'm sorry I couldn't educate you further in the area you thought an article on de-seeding was going to be about. I suspect you already know all about that stuff anyway.
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