Archive for the ‘Deadheading’ Category


Off With Their Heads!

October 27, 2012

“Should I cut off the seed heads or not?” is a question asked by many gardeners. Usually there are two answers to this question.

If you want to stop the seeds from self-sowing themselves, then the answer is “yes”, go ahead and cut them off.

Also if you are one of those gardeners who like to keep the garden immaculate and tidy, then “yes” again. The reasons for keeping the seed heads and spent flowering stems on is to allow the seeds to self-sow, to provide food for wild life and to add more protection for the remainder of the plant from frost damage.

The seed head of plants can be very attractive and add seasonal interest in there own right. The Achillea ‘Gold Plate’ has flattened yellow flowerheads in summer, which go pale to brown by autumn. The Ice Plant, Sedum spectabile has heads of small star-shaped pink flowers in late summer, which turn brown for winter.

Clematis orientalis has bell like orange-peel blooms that turn into wonderful fluffy seed heads of silky, silvery strands. Crocosmia – the leaves turn a rustic colour and the flower stems develop beaded seed heads.

The Gladwin, Roast-Beef Plant (because it smells of the meat), Iris foetidissima, has an orange/ yellow ting with purple vein flowers through out the summer then goes on to produce brilliant orange seed clusters.

The African Lily, Agapanthus is architectural with its long stem with a pom-pom like head of seed capsules. Also architectural is the bold Bear’s Breeches, Acanthus spinosus, with its spine-toothed leaves and its spire of seed heads.

Many English garden have a Hydrangea, and their mop-heads or lace capped dried flower heads can look very attractive.

I’m a fan of ornamental grasses and their seed heads can be good value for autumn interest too. How about the Dwarf Pampas Grass, Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’, with its lovely creamy white plumes or the Chinese Sliver Grass, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Kleine Fontane?

Seed heads can be very attractive with wind movement, especially when they are glistening or coated with frost, and I do admit that they are my favourite when dusted with snow.

So take a second look at your garden and see which seed heads you need to remove and which can stay. Enjoy your autumn garden with the gifts it can bring.