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How to deadhead flowers

Discover several ways to deadhead different types of flowers in this handy guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Deadheading your flowering plant is a rewarding job that refreshes the whole garden.

Take them off as soon as they begin to droop as this will help to conserve the plant’s energy by preventing them from setting seed. Bedding plants benefit most from daily deadheading as it will extend the life of the plants and encourage them to continue producing more flowers through the summer.

Ideally, deadhead any plants that don’t produce decorative seedheads, such as lilac and peonies. Snap off old flower clusters of rhododendrons, to allow the buds to develop. Deadheading also curbs excessive self-seeding, which can be a problem with plants such as alliums and alchemilla.

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Follow the advice in our guide to deadheading different types of flowers.

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You Will Need

  • Scissors, floral snips or secateurs

Step 1

The dying flowers of summer bedding plants can be simply pinched off between finger and thumb. Alternatively, use scissors or florists’ snips.

Breaking off spent flowers

Step 2

Cluster-flowered roses should be deadheaded regularly so that the plant’s energy is channelled into the other flower buds. Cut each flower off as the petals begin to fall.

Deadheading roses

Step 3

Cut off only the flowers of hydrangeas in spring, so the flowerheads protect the emerging flower buds from frost over winter.

Deadheading hydrangeas

Step 4

The tall flower spikes of some perennials, such as this lupin, are best cut back before the last few flowers are finished, as seed pods are already forming at the base. Prune out the stalk to just above the leaves.

Deadheading lupins

Step 5

Plants which produce masses of flowers, like this lavender, can be given a ‘haircut’ with secateurs or scissors as soon as the flowers lose their colour. This will encourage bushy side growth and keep plants compact.

Deadheading lavender

Step 6

Pelargonium flowers have long stalks – snap these off cleanly at the base, where they sprout from the main stem, rather than snipping off and leaving a stub.

Picking off an old pelargonium bloom

Step 7

Pinch off the faded blooms of lilies, daylilies and their relatives. Then, when all the flowers on the stem are spent, snip it off at the base.

Deadheading daylilies

Step 8

Daisies such as rudbeckias and heleniums are often handsome in their decline and can form attractive seedheads. But if they look too tatty, snip them off.

Deadheading rudbeckias
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6 plants not to deadhead

  • Shrub roses that produce ornamental hips
  • Sunflowers, as the seeds provide winter food for birds
  • Hydrangeas, to protect next year’s buds from frost
  • Ornamental grasses, sedums and Clematiswhich all produce attractive seedheads

Secateurs