How to deadhead flowers
Why deadhead you may ask? Deadheading will help you get the most out of your plants as it will encourage more flowers to bloom while tidying up the overall appearance or your plants
Regular deadheading moves energy into stronger growth and away from wasting the plants’ strength on dying parts of the plant, and this in turn means more new flowers.
For easy deadheading, make sure you are watering the plants adequately to avoid a rubbery, hard to cut stem.
Certain varieties of Geraniums can go in and out of bloom, and it is important to deadhead these as often as you would for the cutting geranium variety.
For the cutting variety, start at the end of the stem removing the stalk, not just taking off the dead flower, it is also important to remove any yellow leaves to prevent any disease from them spreading to other leaves.
For the variety such as Martha Washington, which are more like groups of flowers, cut off the section which has browned, as these don’t all fade at the same time. It is easiest to do this with scissors, and as this variety also tend to go in and out of bloom, it is vital to keep watering the plant or you will lose potential flowers for later in the season.
For Petunias, which are absolutely beautiful when in full bloom but tend to fade all too quickly, the way to deadhead is to completely remove the stalk and seed pods. This will enable the plant to continue to flower all season long. Thinning the plant back each fortnight will help flowers to bloom not only over the side of your container but also giving the middle part of the plant a new lease of life.
The ravishing Rose, is a tough shrub but easy to grow, and the best way to deadhead a rose is to cut right in to the bud, this will form side shoots, therefore producing more flowers. An idea for the cut roses is to make potpourri from the petals, or place the full flower heads in a bowl of water for decoration purposes.
Amongst the most important shrubs to deadhead are Azaleas and Camellias, the best time to do this is just after they bloom, this will help them to flower and grow out instead of up helping with the voluptuous look you are after. Using secateurs should help with the task, and Kent & Stowe have a variety of secateurs to suit all shrubs.
Feeding your flowers
With an array of plant food products on the market it can be often be confusing on which one is most suitable for your particular plants. Although there are many varieties available there are generally three types of ways in which they will work.
There is a fast acting fertiliser for when plants are starting to droop or need a little boost. These are typically in liquid form which can be absorbed by the plant quite quickly. The Gro-Sure All Purpose Plant Food is the ideal choice for this.
A slow release fertiliser is normally applied as a powder such as Westland’s Fish Blood & Bone which can be applied to fruit bushes by scattering the product on the ground and gently raking it in.
Finally we have a controlled release fertiliser, and this type is ideal for hanging baskets or containers. They are often available as a granule, and Gro-Sure also offer a Slow Release Plant Food Tablet which continues to feed for 6 months.
Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are the main three nutrients most plants need to survive, also known as NPK. Nitrogen helps leaf growth, Phosphorous for root development and Potassium assists with flowering, fruits and general strength. Therefore depending on what you are feeding the levels of each will vary between fertilisers.
Before you start planting you should enrich the soil by mixing in a fertiliser, as not only will you be adding nutrients but you will also help with improving the soil structure. This is also known as base dressing. The Gardener’s Soil Conditioner is ideal for revitalising tired soils by boosting nutrient content.
During the growing season your containers, baskets and pots will all thank you for a reviving feed once a week. A liquid fertiliser would be best for this so you can mix and apply directly from the watering can.
If you are growing veg such as tomatoes they should be receiving a feed every 10 to 14 days. Westland Big Tom is tomato food enriched with essential nutrients and a wetting agent to increase the nutrient uptake. Using a feed such as Big Tom should result in you having a fantastic yield of home grown, big and juicy tomatoes. Or alternatively this fertiliser can be used on fruit trees or flowers and you will see an increase in both.