Gardening Answers

Deadheading – yes or no?

Plantswoman | Posted in Pacific Northwest Gardening on

Do you dead head perennials or leave them for the wildlife?  My general rule is what does it look like when it goes dormant?  If it stays upright, has interest, and doesn’t seed all over it gets to stay.


  1. User avater
    CAlexander | | #1

    I've always wondered what to do with foliage that starts looking nasty. For instance, my peony looks terrible around this time of year. Can I cut back the foliage or should I leave it for the root system?

  2. User avater Moderator
    Plantswoman | | #2

    If it is no longer green I would remove it. If it has a bit of green and looks like it could still be useful to the plant I would leave it. I have some Peonies that look good all the way into the fall and have a great fall color. I have others that look bad right after blooming. You would want to still keep that area under some irrigation so the roots do not dry out.

  3. MLO33 | | #3

    If you want continued bloom throughout the season, you should deadhead. The plant thinks it's done its job of procreating by forming seeds, if you cut the dead heads off before the seeds are fully formed, it shifts the hormones in the plants and can promote more flowering. At the end of the season, yes, you could certainly stop deadheading and then do whatever you'd like with the plant as it goes dormant or into winter rest mode. In Northern California, I stop deadheading roses end of September or October, depending on the weather and let them go to hips. This also helps them shut down and be more ready for winter pruning. We often have warm, dry early winters and the roses want to keep going and we can't get them to go fully dormant and rest. Letting the hips form seems to help this some.

    1. User avater Moderator
      Plantswoman | | #4

      Great tips! I like the stems left on some of my perennials. Salvia Caradonna has vibrant Blue-Purple flowers but after flowering the stems are a soft purple that mixes well with the grasses heading into fall. I usually quit deadheading roses at the beginning of September. I agree they start to go dormant when the hips start forming. Do you cut the hips for decoration inside during the fall or Christmas season?

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