You invested money and effort in a colorful landscape. For maximum return on your investment, deadhead.
In this context, deadheading has nothing to do with a 60s rock band. It has to do with removing spent flowers from your plants before they can go to seed. The practice is also called pinching. Some gardeners believe that you have to pinch the flowers off in order to encourage more blooms, but I use a pair of bonsai pruning shears and it works just fine.
Deadheading works on both your house plants and those in your outdoor beds. After flower buds break, they display their color to attract pollinators. When they are pollinated, the bloom begins to fade and start to shrivel up. This means that it’s developing its seeds. That’s the time to remove the spent flowers. The plant can then direct its energy to producing new blossoms rather than seeds.
Annuals are especially good candidates for deadheading. These plants’ main role in life is to reproduce. When the flower seeds are scattered, their job is done. They may stick around as foliage plants, but they also may die right away. Deadheading encourages them to make more flowers instead. You can then enjoy color longer before you have to change those annuals out for fresh plants.
Perennials don’t die after blooming. They just become foliage plants until next year. Deadheading many perennials will result in new blooms, thus extending their colorful season. Some may be encouraged to bloom for nearly the whole growing season.
The lifecycle of a plant is dictated by such stimuli as light and temperature. Removing flowers before they can go to seed is another stimulus that tells the plant that its effort to reproduce wasn’t successful and to try again. Besides extending the plant’s bloom time, this practice also gets you out in the garden, enjoying your plants close up and personal.