Deadhead Roses

Did you know you can encourage more blooms by removing spent or withered flowers? It’s true, and it’s called deadheading.

If you don’t deadhead roses, one of two things happen:

  1. Flowering stops. If the bloom is pollinated, a hip will develop below the flower and
    produce seeds. The hip, in turn, will produce a hormone that inhibits bud formation, so the rose will have done its job and will wait for another season to bloom. While we appreciate the beauty of the flower, the rose is really there to help in the transfer of pollen from one plant to another, resulting in seeds.
  2. Flowering continues, if you have a repeat-bloomer. If the flower was not pollinated, the rose will wither, the tip of the stem will dry up, and the bloom falls off. Most of the time if the rose is a repeat-bloomer, new shoots will be produced so that new flowers develop and perhaps be pollinated before the season ends.
Dead-Heading-Article-3jpg Rose Hip After Last Bloom
Bee-Polinating-Rose Honey Bee Pollinating

How to Deadhead a Rose

Dead-Heading-Article-2jpg Prune back to a five-leaflet branch
  • The traditional method: Prune back to a five-leaflet leaf, cutting at an angle, just above a leaflet facing outward. This is easy if the rose produces them, but some do not. If that’s the case, try the next method.
  • To encourage fewer, but larger, blooms and strong canes: Cut the stem lower on the bush.
  • To reduce the size of the plant: Cut back to an acceptable height, leaving some foliage on the canes. It will take a little longer to produce blooms, but the effect may be more pleasing to the eye.
  • To remove a faded flower: Snap the flowers off at the base of the bloom (peduncle), especially after the first flush in the spring or on newly planted roses.

Tips from the Pros

      • More foliage results in healthy canes, more basal breaks (the canes that come out of the base of the plant and form the main structure of the plant), and better blooms.
      • Leaves turn sunlight into food. More food means more flowers.
      • Fertilizing does no good without foliage because it is through photosynthesis that the plant manufactures food.
      • Pinching or snapping off the bloom results in smaller flowers because the plant sends new shoots from the leaves near the top of the bush.
      • Disbud shoots that are produced from the leaves at the top of the cane to get larger flowers. This will cause the cane to produce new shoots from father down that will develop into larger canes and bigger blooms.