Monty Don: How to deadhead plants in April – ‘simple’ but ‘overlooked’ gardening job

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Deadheading is done to keep plants looking attractive and encourage more blooms. The gardening job can be done to a variety of different plants whether in flower beds, borders, containers or hanging baskets. In his latest blog post, Monty Don said it was a “simple” job to get done in April.

Monty wrote: “This is a very simple job but one which is often overlooked.

“To extend the rhododendron and azalea season and ensure that the plant does not waste its energies into seed production, deadhead as many faded flowers as you can.

“This is particularly relevant to large flowered varieties.

“Do not use secateurs as you risk injuring the fragile buds growing at the base of the flowers but gather the flower trusses between finger and thumb and snap them off.”

Removing the withered flowers also reduces the risk of fungal infections, helping to increase next year’s flowering display.

Monty added: “As well as doing the plant good it also removes unsightly dead flowers that can hang onto the shrub for days or even weeks.”

In last week’s episode of Gardeners’ World, the expert also recommended deadheading daffodils.

Daffodils, which are planted between September and November, often bloom in February and can last until May.

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At this time of year they can start to wither, meaning it is time to deadhead them.

Monty said: “Daffodils grown in long grass can be left to die back naturally untouched.

“But if you’re growing them in containers, it’s a very good idea to deadhead.

“This will mean that all the goodness as the foliage dies goes back into next year’s bulb, and therefore next year’s display.”

Deadheading can also prevent plants, such as roses and peonies, scattering debris widely.

This means gardeners can keep their garden looking tidy.

Not all plants need deadheading though and it is important to know which ones to leave alone.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said: “Some obliging plants do not need deadheading.

“Typically fuchsias, bedding lobelia and salvias either don’t set much seed or neatly deadhead themselves.

“Do not remove the faded flowers on plants that produce seed loved by birds, including Rudbeckia, cornflower and sunflower.”

Monty also recommended planting sweet peas this month.

He wrote: “Sweat peas grow best in rich soil with plenty of moisture and in cool, but not cold, conditions.

“The more you can enrich the soil with lots of compost or manure before planting, the better they will grow. I like to grow mine up bean sticks arranged as a wingman but any support will do from bamboo canes to chicken wire.

“I plant two or three plants to each stick or support and water them in dry well before mulching them thickly to keep them weed-free and to stop them drying out.”

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