How do you make blooms last longer? Once they wilt, it’s tempting to sit back, call it a success, and wait for their performance next year. But many plants are willing to bloom again if we manage them the right way. Deadheading, fertilizing, and even putting a plant in the sunshine can make flowering last for weeks and even months longer!
Deadheading for Longer Blooms
It sounds gruesome, but in fact, no heads are involved, and the flowers aren’t actually dead. They’ve just bloomed, were pollinated, and now the plant is turning those flowers into seeds. Just imagine the energy that goes into creating a seed—something that has the power to form a whole new plant. We can spare the plant this expense by cutting off the flowers and redirecting that energy into more blooms.
How to Deadhead by Pinching
Many flowers can be quickly deadheaded by pinching them off with your hands. Usually, these are flowers with thin stems that don’t rise much above the leaves, such as petunias, marigolds, phlox, or asters. Simply pinch off the flower down to the next closest leaf, and fresh blooms will soon follow.
Many gardeners try to have at least one plant blooming at every window of the growing season.
How to Deadhead by Cutting
Flowers with long or thick stems—including yarrow, coneflower, delphiniums, lupines, and many others—can be cut with hand pruners. Instead of leaving an empty stem sticking above the leaves, trim it down to the next leaf below. That will hide your cuts and won’t affect the new flowers that spring up.
How to Deadhead by Shearing
Many flowers grow in a dense mass, and all finish flowering at the same time. Instead of cutting them back one by one, you can clear the deadheads away with your shears. This applies to thyme, catmint, lavender, coreopsis, and other plants with similar habits. Again, to avoid the look of dead stems sticking up into the air, shear them right down to the leaves, and take an inch off the greenery, too. Also, it’s always a good idea to clean your pruners in between each use, avoiding the transmission of possible infections and pests.
How to Fertilize for More Blooms
Fertilizing your plants is another trick to make blooms last longer. Look for fertilizers that enhance flowering. Typically, these have a higher ratio of phosphorus (the middle number) than nitrogen and potassium. Remember that more is not necessarily better. Sprinkling bone meal on the soil is another way to give plants a boost of phosphorus. Feel free to consult the experts at our nurseries in Chicagoland to find the best selection of fertilizer to make your blooms last longer!
How to Make Blooms Last Longer with Sunlight
If you suspect a flower is underperforming, double-check its sunlight needs. If it’s not receiving enough rays, it could be lacking the energy to blossom fully. How to solve this? Find a way to let it drink in more sunlight. That may mean transplanting it, pruning trees or shrubs around it, or moving a flower pot to a brighter home.
Keep in mind that transplanting a plant when it’s blooming will disrupt the blossoms. So plan to transplant it after blooming for improvements next season.
How to Make Blooms Last Longer with Water
Are your flowers thirsty? That will shorten bloom times as well, especially during a hot spell. Double-check your plant’s water needs, and give it more refreshments as needed. A fully hydrated flower has more energy to bloom, respond to deadheading, and last longer!
A final way to make the blooms in your garden last longer is to plant more of them. If you have a favorite flower, you can even add more of it in a different variety, as each variety has a preferred time to peak. Many gardeners try to have at least one plant blooming at every window of the growing season. Often, the most inspiring gardens have many plants blooming at once, and overlapping, so the bees are always happy, and the show lasts right through the fall!
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.