How to Deadhead Geraniums
Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) are among the most traditional annual flowers for the summertime in containers, window boxes and the garden proper. Although a subtropical perennial plant, it is often grown as an annual, or temporary, flower where winters are too cold outdoors. Lots of sunshine and a moist well-draining soil promotes flowers, and promptly removing old flowers--deadheading--hastens reflowering.
Monitor the flower clusters on your geranium plant, enjoying them until the majority of the blossoms have turned an off-color or beige. As the petals drop or dry, this is a signal it's time to deadhead. Feel free to pick off blossoms to keep the overall flower head tidy in an effort to delay deadheading.
Search for the thin stem holding the waning geranium flower head, and trace this stem down to where it attaches to the main, thicker stem on the plant.
Snap off the flower stem from the main plant stem by pushing the flower stem's base downward. Alternatively, snip the flower stem 1/4-inch above the main stem with a hand pruners or scissors.
Discard the old flower stem and any dropped leaf or petal debris into the compost bin. No further maintenance is needed to promote new flowers to be made by the geranium.
For a versatile plant that puts on a showy display of flowers, few can top the garden geranium (Pelargonium spp.). Geraniums usually bloom nonstop during the growing season, but you can boost the number of flowers while keeping the plant looking tidy by removing spent blossoms, a process called deadheading. If petals have already fallen off the plant, you'll see bare stems sticking out beyond the foliage like short spikes; remove these also when deadheading. Deadhead geraniums whenever you notice faded or brown blooms. Once you've deadheaded the plant, keep it well-watered and don't allow the soil to dry out completely. To boost blooming throughout the season, repeat fertilization every four to six weeks, watering plants at the base with a water-soluble 10-20-10 fertilizer to prevent disturbing roots. As the end of the season nears, dig up and pot garden geraniums to over-winter indoors, bringing them back outdoors the following spring.
Flowering is heaviest from spring to fall when sunlight is more intense. Humid and rainy weather can shorten the life span of geranium flowers, so be prepared to deadhead faded or rotting flowers or leaves more frequently.
Be careful not to apply too much pressure or twisting action to the flower stem bases when deadheading, if you do it by hand. You don't want to snap off the growing tip on the main flower branch where new flowers are produced.
- Flowering is heaviest from spring to fall when sunlight is more intense. Humid and rainy weather can shorten the life span of geranium flowers, so be prepared to deadhead faded or rotting flowers or leaves more frequently.
- Be careful not to apply too much pressure or twisting action to the flower stem bases when deadheading, if you do it by hand. You don't want to snap off the growing tip on the main flower branch where new flowers are produced.
- Hand pruners or scissors
- British Broadcasting Company: Pruning
- Midwest Garden Tips: Deadheading
- Fine Gardening: Geranium
- Royal Horticultural Society: Deadheading Plants
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Geranium
- Oregon State University Extension Service: Remove Spent Blossoms for More Flowers
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: How Can I Make Colorful Flowers Throughout my Landscape Last Longerr