Off with their heads for more blooms

Deadheading flowers is not my favorite garden chore. In fact, it is close to the bottom (although it is higher up than weeding). Even after three years in the tropics, deadheading still provokes in me a sense of melancholy, a sense of endings. There I am, snipping fading blooms torleyheader062314from plants to keep them from going to seed, which is their job, and forcing them to continue to bloom. Somehow, it just isn’t right.

That, of course, is a holdover from a place where deadheading often meant the end of the season when I didn’t want it to end. Like braiding  the stems of the  daffodils, deadheading meant an end. Even when I was deadheading pansies to keep them in bloom, I knew that they would stop blooming in the heat of summer. And the poor little plants that I am deadheading, all they really want to do is complete a life-cycle by setting seeds and fading.

DUH! What pathetic nonsense in the tropics! I was out early this morning deadheading the hydrangeas and could clearly see that they were forming new buds and will be blooming again very soon. What a waste of melancholy!

Deadheading in the tropics actually makes sense to me. After all, the silly little plants that would die in the cold of a New York winter or the heat of a Georgia summer keep right on going in the year-round temperatures offered by Costa Rica. If you can get it to bloom at all here, you can keep it blooming long after it would have died anywhere else.

Take my zinnias and cosmos for example. Summer is their season, and we have a lot of summer. Use them as cut flowers and they just keep coming back. And the coleus. . . don’t get me started there. Pinch off the flowers, and they start to take over. I planted a few and they now have (I am not exaggerating much) trunks! They have taken over the terraced beds and crept into the roses by way of rooting their stems. I keep giving them away, and they just keep on going.

The best thing? You don’t have to call it deadheading, you can call it gathering cut flowers for the house.  Just make sure you have a vase for every room – bathroom included – because you are going to be gathering a lot  of flowers.

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