How to - Techniques

Three deadheading techniques

Prolong blooms and maintain healthy plants with this set of snip tips

deadheading3.jpgTechnique 3: Deadheading rhodos
Small-flowered rhododendrons (including azaleas) can be left alone but the ones with big blowsy flower trusses benefit from deadheading, at least as long as the plants are a reachable size. Once the flowers are done, they fall off, leaving a spidery cluster of little stalks. Each cluster will snap or twist off fairly cleanly at the base.

However, this is where the new growth sprouts, so take care to remove the spent flower without damaging the emerging buds.  You can use your finger and thumb but the flower bases are very sticky, and wearing gloves increases the risk of removing the buds, too. Pointy scissors or needle-nosed pruners are cleaner and more precise. Still, gloves are a good idea to use along with your scissors because the sticky stuff is hard to get off your skin.

One gardener I know sprays her gloves with cooking spray to prevent sticking! Try to deadhead your rhodos within three weeks of the end of flowering to ensure the flower base remains supple enough to snap off easily and the new buds aren’t too large to interfere. Rhodos will still bloom without being deadheaded but doing so makes them look better and directs their energy into growing instead of setting seed.


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