When such beautiful empress as Cleopatra had her best secret of beauty, as in milk and honey bathing, the queens of garden—roses—have their best secret of growth, too. It is deadheading technique, applied by gardeners to conserve precious foliage on rose bushes.
Deadheading roses is basically removing the spent blossoms just above the first five leaflet leaf. Occasionally you may find a reference that advises removing the spent blossoms at a three leaflet leaf after the first spring flush. This is because foliage conservation is needed by roses for photosynthesis.
Deadheading is technique of tricking roses into thinking they have failed in this reproductive process. By removing all blossoms before they have had chances to fully develop fruits, the plants send out re-growth hormones, produce new blooms, and then try once more. Deadheading is in fact one way you can use to fool the mother’s nature!
Do not hesitate to deadhead your roses regularly. There are bud eyes from which the new growth would probably emerge, so it would not kill your roses. In fact, it will help them grow healthier, since retention of all possible foliage makes them stronger and their blooms larger.
Here are some facts about deadheading roses, concluded from reported interviews with several respected rosarians round the globe:
- Pruning to a five-leaflet leaf (sometimes called a “true leaf”) is not always necessary. The “just remove the flower and leave all the foliage” treatment produces more basal breaks and faster healthy re-growth, compared to the conventional method.
- Conservation of all foliage is extremely important, and it includes the leaves on blind shoots and twiggy growth. All contribute significantly to photosynthesis and should be retained unless they interfere with the growth of healthy new canes.
- Both facts above are especially important to be kept in mind when you prune winter damaged rose bush, deadhead them after the first spring flush, and rejuvenate plants which have suffered other damages.
- The further down the stem you cut, the larger the bloom stem and subsequent bud will become, and hence, the longer it will take for the rose to re-bloom.
- Deciding how far down the stem to make the cut is best determined by using good personal judgment.
- Deadheading will remove hiding places and food for insects which often become pests in your garden.
- Deadheading will inhibit minor improvements in air circulation, thus reducing the potential for fungal diseases.