Practicing good grooming habits

Perennials look better with a little grooming, but don't feel you have to fuss over them constantly. Just remove dead or damaged stems, wayward ones or ones that are crowding others. The same goes for foliage that doesn't look good. And always clip or snap off stems at ground level (beheaded and short stems don't look good). You can pinch off smaller branching stems or individual leaves.

Off with its head! Deadheading your plant

Deadheading is just a gardening term that refers to the practice of removing spent flowers or flower heads. Not only does it leave your perennials looking nicer, but it also encourages more blooms. Deadheading works by thwarting the plant's natural inclination to go from flower to seed and thus finish up for the year. If you deadhead, the chemical messages that put that process in motion are stopped and the plant redirects its energies into making more buds and thus more flowers. You can keep a perennial in bloom a lot longer by doing this.

So make a habit of deadheading your perennials every time you walk by. Toss the faded flowers on the compost pile. Or bring your clippers along and cut bouquets while the flowers are still in their prime — cutting fresh flowers has the same effect as later deadheading!

Figure 7-4:

Plant supports do more than support plants; they can also help them grow better and produce more blooms.

Figure 7-4:

Plant supports do more than support plants; they can also help them grow better and produce more blooms.

Spring and summer, when perennials are growing, are the best times to groom. The grooming doesn't traumatize the plant, and new growth can soon fill in and hide your cuts.

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