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Deadhead your flowers, and they'll repay you with more blooms

Deadhead your flowers, and they'll repay you with more blooms

Spent peonies

“Peonies expend energy trying to produce seed that won’t produce desirable new plants,” John Fech said, so cut off the spent blooms.

A unique tour of Omaha’s one-of-a-kind botanical gardens, bird sanctuary and arboretum. Located near the Missouri River, the popular attraction serves as an urban oasis escape for visitors.

There are three good reasons to deadhead the blooms on your plants.

“Grooming, more flowers and less diseases,” said John Fech, a horticulture expert at the Douglas-Sarpy County Extension Service.

Removal of faded flowers helps create more air flow, which keeps the plant leaves drier and results in fewer foliage diseases. Removal also encourages plants to produce more blooms instead of putting all of their efforts into developing seeds, according to Fech.

With most plants, it’s just a matter of following the stem down to the highest set of leaves and making a cut.

Roses are a different story. There’s a sweet spot.

“We generally direct people toward the five-leaflet leaf,” he said. “That helps control the size of the plant, and it will also rebloom relatively quickly.”

Rose leaf

Removing spent blooms gives plants more energy to direct toward new blossoms. On most plants, you can just trim at the highest leaf. With roses, it's at the first five-leaflet leaf.

Unless you’re trying to breed new plants, it’s hard to ruin a plant if you trim the spent flowers incorrectly. In the long run, it just saves energy, especially for popular perennials such as peonies.

“Peonies expend energy trying to produce seed that won’t produce desirable new plants,” Fech said.

You can water too much

It doesn’t seem possible that you can water too much in this hot weather.

But you can, Fech warns. Soil might seem dry at the top but moist a few inches deeper. Many plants wilt in the afternoon sun but perk up by the evening.

“Probe into the soil to check for moisture” before watering, Fech said. “That’s helpful for container pots as well as in-ground plants.”

Fech recommends using a screwdriver. If it comes out cool and damp and a little muddy, the plant doesn’t need to be watered.

Too much watering, no matter how high the temperature, can lead to root rot.

Fech’s office doesn’t have precise water recommendations for hot Nebraska summers. But moist, not soggy or dry, is best.

“We tell people to check their soil moisture,” he said. “We do that for lawns, flowers and vegetables. Every soil is a little different. Every sun exposure is a little different, and that makes a big difference on the plant’s need for water.”

Omaha World-Herald: Inspired Living

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Marjie is a writer for The World-Herald’s special sections and specialty publications, including Inspired Living Omaha, Wedding Essentials and Momaha Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @mduceyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1034.

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