How To Deadhead Roses


As the flowers on roses begin to fade, unless you want to allow the fruits to mature and hips to form, you will want to deadhead most varieties of rose. This is a common garden job and one, you might have thought, that does not need a lot of thought. If you think about it, however, deadheading is a lot more interesting as a topic than you might initially imagine.

Why Deadhead Roses?

The first question to ask yourself is why we bother deadheading roses in the first place. Is it really necessary or is it just the act of overly pernickety gardeners desperate to keep their gardens looking neat at all times? As it happens there are actually a number of reasons why deadheading roses is a good idea, both on single flower and repeat flowering roses.

Rose HipsOn single flowering roses, if flower heads are not removed then there will be no new flowers. Instead, the plant will concentrate on forming a hip and creating seeds. Once a hip forms, there is a hormonal signal sent which will inhibit the growth of any more blooms. On repeat flowering types, as flowers wither and fade, new shoots and new flowers will form. In either case, deadheading increases the number of flowers and the length of time for which they bloom.

While you may think that increasing the number of duration of rose flowers is simply about aesthetics and about keeping your garden looking nice. In fact, having more flowers in your garden is good news for pollinating insects. Though for the sake of the wildlife in your garden you should allow hips to form towards the end of the season.

Deadheading Methods

Arise a roseYou may think that deadheading is as simple as you can get. Surely you simply take off the flowers when they start to fade? Actually, how you remove the spent flowers is important and how you do so will depend on what you want to achieve.

The traditional method favoured by many gardeners is to prune back the branches of dead flowers to a five leaflet leaf, cutting just above the leaf. However, to encourage larger blooms and stronger canes, you may wish to cut lower down the bush. Cutting lower may also be of benefit where you are keen to reduce the size of the plant. It will take longer for blooms to form but you may find that the aesthetic effect is better.

Today, however, many gardeners favour simply snapping off faded blooms at the base of the flower. Blooms will appear more quickly and will be abundant when you do this though since the new shoots come from leaves at the tops of the canes the flowers produced will tend to be smaller.

Which method you choose does depend on what you want to achieve and how important flower size is to you. It does seem clear, however, that most roses should be deadheaded, not just for aesthetic reasons but for the good of your garden ecosystem.