Give your shrubs and perennials some summer attention with a little pruning and deadheading to revive them and keep them blooming into the fall.
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Hello! For this week's height-of-summer Tuesdays In The Garden, our group thought we would bring you some fall-themed articles to help you get over any mid-summer gardening slump you may find yourself in (my hand is raised - I always have moments around this time of year when I feel like, "whatever").
I'm sharing tips for pruning and deadheading so that your shrubs and perennials will continue to bloom for you well into the fall and then you can find the links from the other TITG bloggers that cover fall veggie gardening, fall chores, and more on transitioning your gardens from summer to fall.
So let's talk about pruning and deadheading in summer - do you do this routinely for your shrubs and perennials? Did you know there are some plants that if you cut them back now they will bloom more for you - and if you don't, they won't? I didn't for many years, but when I realized I could have more fall blooms without planting more, I make it a point to get out in the garden at the end of July/beginning of August to clean up a bit and prune for that fall color! The trimming and removing any browning foliage also helps to revive the garden and keep it looking good. (affiliate links included when appropriate - thank you for your support if you're able to use them!)
Pruning and Deadheading Perennials & Shrubs in Summer for Fall Color
Luckily, this is a project that doesn't require more than clippers, gloves and a bucket to collect your clippings. Deadheading is usually a bit more delicate than all-out pruning, so I really like this multi-snip tool that I discovered last spring for this garden chore. Regular by-pass pruners also work, too, so use whatever you have.
I bought these gloves last spring, since I always go through 1-2 pairs in a season (from holes in the fingertips…) and I'm surprised how lightweight they are, but how sturdy. I haven't even put holes in the fingertips of the first pair yet - which means I have extra pairs available for any garden helpers I may recruit. 😉
General Pruning-Deadheading Tips
(Note: "deadheading" means to remove the spent blossoms from plants, while pruning refers to removing any part of the plant, from large to small - what we're doing in summer is small, just cutting back some and trimming.)
For most of your perennials and shrubs that have bloomed or are continuing to bloom, all you need to do is to clip off the spent blossoms, or "deadhead." There are two things to think about to know where to cut the dead blossom:
- You can cut it back to the first new growth you see, like this buddleia shown above. Those new shoots on the sides will produce new blossoms, keeping this compact variety (Lo & Behold 'Ice Chip') blooming into the fall.
- OR you can cut it back further to keep it in check for the area you have it planted, which would be more of a pruning. Still look for new growth, but farther down on the stems to keep the plant from growing too big or to help it stay a more pleasing shape.
You'll also have plants like the daylily pictured here that have dead flower stalks and dead leaves. Taking the time to remove the browning, dead leaves as well as deadheading the flower stalks goes a long way to helping your garden look good into the fall. Some varieties of daylilies, like Stella d'Oro, will continue to bloom if the dead stalks are removed, but most are done blooming, though they will continue providing grass-like foliage as a backdrop to the garden.
For perennials that are covered with smaller blooms, like hardy geranium, the easiest way to remove all the spent blossoms is to shear the plant back. Grab sections with your hand and cut the entire section off, going around the plant until most of the spent blooms are gone. It won't look it's best for a week or two, but will soon put out new growth and more blooms.
For established hydrangeas, the heavy blossoms may be causing the plant to bend and dip, leaving the tops bare. It's the perfect time to clip the oldest blossoms off, especially those at the bottom, allowing the leaves to spring back into position. If you grow any of the reblooming hydrangeas, like Endless Summer, they will continue to send out new blossoms for you.
The best part of pruning hydrangeas in summer is collecting all the blooms and filling the house with vases of fresh flowers!
You've probably been deadheading individual rose blooms as they've been blooming the past few months, but making sure to cut back to a five-leaf junction, where new growth and blooms will come from, will help your shrub to bloom faster.
You'll also want to cut back to new growth in order to cut off any diseased leaves and stems, (like I obviously have on some of my roses - if you live in the Pacific Northwest, every rose will get blackspot…). This not only makes it look better, but it helps stop the spread of any disease to the new growth.
Have any tips to share? Any plants you've found that respond well to deadheading, shearing, or pruning at mid-season? Let me know in the comments!
Here are the other articles from our Tuesdays in The Garden group to help you start thinking about fall!
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links and by clicking on them you help support AOC at no extra cost to you – thanks so much! Plus you can trust I'll only share what I love. (You can always read our entire disclosure page here.)