Deadheading roses is an easy way to keep them looking great for longer. It is one of the simplest forms of pruning and as we will find out has multiple benefits to both the look and the health of your roses.
What Is Deadheading?
The process of “deadheading” a plant is a specific form of pruning. In this case, we focus on the rose plant, but deadheading is essential for other ornamental plants that flower as well.
In simple terms, deadheading is the act of cutting any flowers that have bloomed and are in the wilting stage, before they go to seed. This not only encourages more flowers to form but also ensures the rose looks neat and tidy without any wilted or browning flowers.
Why Deadhead Roses?
The deadheading process is vital for the health of the rose and not just its visual appeal.
While it does make the roses look much better, it also helps the plant by taking away the parts that take up much of the plant’s nutrients and energy.
Roses put a lot of its energy into creating seeds after flowering as well as growing the stems that hold the flower out to attract pollinators. The flower is the plant’s attractant because they need to be pollinated by bees and other insects.
Cutting the flower heads from the rose just as they are about to produce hips which hold the seeds saves energy.
You effectively make the plant reroute its energy that would otherwise be producing seed into blooming more flowers and growing in all the right places.
By deadheading a rose plant, you will make it healthier and look much better, even when the plant goes through the stages of seeding. You’ll see more flowers and more profusive growth every year.
When to Deadhead a Rose?
Roses that have bloomed, or any flower for that matter, are going to begin to wilt and die after a few days or weeks. The rose will want to produce hips, which are ovaries where the seeds form which can then be spread to produce more plants, this is the nature of all plants.
For our purposes, we should deadhead our roses whenever you see a flower beginning to wilt. Cutting off a wilting or dead rose flower will lessen the plant’s energy loss from routing nutrients and energy to seeding.
The rose will then produce more flowers because it wants to set seed, meaning there will be more flowers for a longer period of time.
For most rose plants, they will flower all-year-round unless they are in a climate with a freezing winter and are exposed to the elements. You’ll need to keep an eye on your roses and deadhead them when necessary to ensure perfectly healthy and great looking roses.
How to Deadhead a Rose Bush
The simplest method is to simply remove the faded flower down to the next bud with secateurs. This should be just the flower and an inch or two of stalk beneath it
Deadheading can be different depending on the rose species you have.
Generally you can just cut off the flower where it meets the stem coming off the main stalk, and that will be just fine.
Sometimes, it is better to follow the specific deadheading process that horticulturists have found to work better for the species of rose.
For example, it is better to deadhead a Hybrid Tea Rose plant much lower on the stem under the flower, where the second set of five leaves are.
It also depends on the time of year and what region the rose is in because Hybrid Tea Roses are long-stem roses that are beautiful vining plants. Cutting the stems shorter on that particular species will prevent the plant from growing long stems if you were to use this deadheading method in the spring or summer.
This method of deadheading is best used before the plant goes dormant during the winter months.
That is just one example of a special tip for specific species of roses. But don’t worry, you cannot hurt the plant if you cut the stem a bit further below the flower. Most gardeners cut the stems at the place where it makes sense to do so. Some roses are bushy, and some are just vines, and some prefer to shape the plant a certain way, which creates a vast difference in where to cut the stem based on what type of roses you have.
What you Need for Deadheading Roses
You don’t need much to deadhead a rose, really just the following is fine:
Make sure they are freshly sharpened so that you don’t tear or rip the plant when you go to cut the stem. If your snips are dull, it will pinch the stem rather than cut it cleanly, which damages much of the insides that must be left in good condition so that the stem may grow and produce more flowers.
Cutting At An Angle
Another good tip is to ensure that you do not create a horizontal surface when you cut any part of a plant.
If there is a part of a plant that can hold water, especially a stem, it creates the perfect environment for mould, bacteria, and fungus that can cause infection and rotting.
These types of issues can severely damage a plant quickly, and sometimes the plant must be removed as it can die. To make sure this doesn’t happen, cut the stem at an angle that makes it impossible for it to be able to hold water or dirt.
Also, blight and rotting can be prevented by doing precisely this: deadheading, which thins out plants and allows for adequate airflow to all parts of the plant, and to check on your garden and look for fungus, bugs, and mould and neutralise it before it spreads.
Big Flowers and Small Flowers
In most cases with any rose species, cutting the stem at the flower will result in smaller, but more numerous flowers in the future.
This happens because it will send shoots from the leaves to the top, which is a consequence of rerouting the plant’s energy. With some rose plants, this is a great thing.
If you have a rose bush that needs larger flowers, you can dis-bud the shoots near the end of the cane, which causes the plant to grow other shoots much nearer the base. Those shoots will grow larger than ones near the top of the plant, which will then grow much larger flowers.
Of course, the soil pH, the amount of nutrients in the soil, how much sunlight the plant gets, and other things are all factors in getting larger or smaller blooms.
Deadheading with these tips in mind may or may not have significant results on your plant so the best thing to do is to try it and see the difference.
Now You Can Care for Your Roses Properly
Taking care of roses can be tedious work. But, with the right amount of knowledge and organisation, you can have some fantastic roses that smell and look fantastic.
If you have rare species or if you want to make sure you’re treating your specific rose species correctly, talk to a rose breeder or nursery and they will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
However, as stated before, anyone can cut the flowers off where it meets the stem, deadheading roses, and get amazing results that will produce more blooms and healthier blooms year after year.