To Insure Continued Bloom

For continued bloom the importance of picking or cutting off old flowers from perennials and annuals cannot be overemphasized. A part of the natural plant cycle for most plants is making seeds for the continuation of the species. When the flowers have bloomed, the plant's main duty becomes the development of seeds from all flowers that have been pollinated. Its energies are geared in that direction, and it will often quit making new buds for future flower production so it can use its energy to develop the seeds. In annual plants, the job has been completed with the seed production, and the plant will often die; perennials won't die but will often not produce further flowers that season unless heroic measures are taken to revitalize the plant.

So, as soon as the blooms begin to fade and go to seed, cut them from the plant, resulting in the plant's energies being directed to developing more flower buds (with its eventual aim the development of seeds). One note of caution: although some rose books suggest cutting off spent flowers, it is less likely to spread diseases such as mosaic virus if the flower heads are snapped off with the fingers instead of cutting them with shears.

Carole Cox
July, 1993