In the Garden: Deadhead for blooms through summer

Dear Anne,

“I am new to the West Coast. My new home has a potential flower garden which is two feet deep and around 20 feet long, and faces south. So far ,I have planted one blueberry bush and a few daffodil bulbs.

“I work long hours, so by the time I get the laundry, cleaning, and groceries done, it’s time to go back to work. What sort of perennials are hardy and slug resistant, yet bloom most of the summer with minimal maintenance?”

Janet, Coquitlam

There are perennials that flower almost all summer with very little maintenance. Watering in dry spells is essential for some, but the real key to continuous bloom is regular deadheading.

Once a plant sets seed, its life’s purpose is fulfilled – it doesn’t need to keep on flowering.

If you never deadhead, plants may change their usual long flowering periods into short ones. If you deadhead several weeks late, plants may try to flower again, but it takes time to form buds, so you’ll get intermittent flushes of bloom.

One of the blue-flowered cranesbills (botanically Geranium ‘Rosanne’) is reputed not to need deadheading at all. It’s has beautiful, prolific blooms, is dwarf, and is easy to obtain.

Meconopsis cambrica is unusual among perennial poppies. It produces its yellow (sometimes orange) flowers all summer and into frost season, with very little deadheading.

But deadhead anyway. Its seedheads spawn endless progeny, and those long taproots are impossible to remove. So pretty… so reliable… so invasive!

The daisy family tends to be long-flowering. One of the longest and brightest sequences is the yellow, brown, and orange mix of Gaillardia, often combined in each flower.

Echinacea is another long-blooming daisy, available in pinks, white, orange, and yellow.

Rudbeckia contains many species of bright yellow cone-flowers that bloom from July to frost. Heights range from 30 centimetres (one foot) to about two metres (six feet).

Knautia offers blood-red scabious blooms (there are pastel forms) all summer. It’s compact in poor soil, an untidy sprawler in rich ground.

The alliums (flowering onions) leave behind long-standing flower heads. Two of the more spectacular are Allium christophii and A. schubertii.

Globe Thistles (Echinops species) have blue globes, spectacular long after the flowers fade. Sea Hollies Eryngium planum, for instance, has purple flowers, prominent calyxes (like a saucer under a purple cone), with metallic purple stems.

Some roses are most reliable. The Flower Carpet series flowers from late spring into late fall (with deadheading). There’s a large colour range in the series and it’s very dwarf, though it spreads widely. Garden centres offer many landscape roses, virtually all long-flowering, though mostly non-fragrant.

Technically, sweet alyssum is an annual, but it covers itself with flowers (purple or white) all summer, is fragrant, and seeds itself thickly year after year. It’s very short and never needs deadheading (and you wouldn’t want to, anyway, because it’s too fiddly).

About deadheading: it’s easier if the pruners can be hidden somewhere between your gate and your house for deadheading as you approach to your front door. Regular deadheading soon becomes a brief routine. It’s clean work and only a few snips each time.

If you deadhead spent flowers before seedheads form, you don’t need to pick up the remains at once. Call it mulch and get it when you can.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Giants wrap southern swing with 6-4 win in Spokane

The Langley-based hockey team defeated the Chiefs Friday night.

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered Langley girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

WATCH: Farm Country Brewing in Langley City expected to open in summer

Farm Country Brewing is currently under construction and is planned to open in summer 2019.

LETTER: Langley/Surrey shortchanged on transit for Vancouver

Funding to get SkyTrain to Langley City could come from not undergrounding Vancouver’s extension.

LETTER: Area letter writer puts Trump government shutdown in perspective

A Maple Ridge letter writer is critical of Hillary Clinton’s comments about the shutdown.

Self serve doggy-wash poised to change dog grooming industry

Add money, start spraying to wash dog in the K9000

UPDATE: B.C. woman and boy, 6, found safe, RCMP confirm

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond

Women and allies marched worldwide protesting violence against women, calling for equality

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

Most Read