Tag Archives: flower garden

Do I Really Need to Deadhead My Flowers?

We all want to keep our flowers looking healthy and blooming for as long as possible. One way you can do this is by deadheading. What is deadheading? What flowers should be deadheaded? How do I deadhead flowers? We’ll answer all these questions to help you keep your flower garden thriving this season.

Should I Deadhead All of My Flowers?

First, deadheading flowers is ultimately a personal choice. You can make gardening work for you. If you’re busy with summer family events, work, or other commitments, the world won’t end because you don’t deadhead your peonies. 

However, deadheading indeed encourages some flowers to bloom for more extended periods. When you remove spent flowers, it enables the plant to more energy into producing more flowers rather than producing seed.

Many people also find it keeps their flower beds looking tidy. Below are some of the flowers you can deadhead but a quick google search should give you an answer for any species.

Celosia (deadhead)Annual Flowers to Deadhead

  • Zinnias
  • Cosmos
  • Coreopsis
  • Calendula
  • Celosia
  • Violas
  • Morning Glories
  • Petunias

Perennial Flowers to Deadhead

  • Daylilies
  • Peonies
  • Roses
  • Irises
  • Echinacea

There are also reasons not to deadhead flowers. These reasons center around the fact that spent flowerheads develop into seed pods.

When you remove a spent flower, you’re not allowing the plant to produce seed. In many cases, this is a fine thing. However, it is nice to let some flowers go to seed. 

You may want some of your flowers to self-seed. Hollyhocks, for example, are biennial, meaning that they bloom the second year. Allowing your plants to go to seed each year ensures that you’ll have a steady supply of blooming flowers in the coming years. Other species that will readily self-seed include rudbeckia, coreopsis, and echinacea. Allowing them to go to seed means you’ll have more flowers next year with little effort.

If desired, you can also share some of these seeds. Swap seeds with friends or find an online or local seed swap. You can help preserve biodiversity and get some new flowers or vegetables to try in return!

Seed pods also bring beauty of their own. Seeds pods from poppies, Job’s Tears, and Jewel of Opar look lovely in the garden and dried arrangements. 

Another reason to leave those spent flowers to produce seed is wildlife. Songbirds love to feed on seeds from various flowers, including zinnias, echinacea, asters, and coreopsis. Leaving these flowerheads alone, especially as we head into fall, can be a great way to give birds a helping hand.

How to Deadhead Flowers

Decided to deadhead some of your flowers? Deadheading flowers is simple and easy. Thankfully, it’s a much easier task than weeding! You can easily deadhead some flowers like petunias with just your fingers, but for tougher, larger flowers like roses, you’ll want a small pair of snips or shears. 

Pinch or cut off any spent flowers below the flower and above the first set of healthy leaves. Flowers with long stems can be cut just above the first set of healthy leaves. For tough stems you’re cutting with shears, snip them at a 45° angle to encourage proper healing. While you’re doing this, it’s also an excellent time to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged foliage. 

Avoid deadheading perennial shrubs and trees in the late summer and fall. Trimming them late in the season can accidentally trim new growth, which is where many species flower the following season.

Do you deadhead your flowers? Let us know why or why not on Facebook! Keep your flower gardening looking great this season with these deadheading tips.

10 Easy-to-Grow Heirloom Flowers

When most people think about planting heirlooms, they think of colorful, quirky tomatoes and other vegetables. Of course, we love heirloom veggies, but there’s a lot to love about heirloom flowers too! Growing them helps support pollinators, wildlife, and beneficial insects. It also preserves biological diversity. Here are ten easy-to-grow heirloom flowers that are perfect for beginners.


Poppies are one of our favorite flowers to fall sow. These cool weather loving beauties can also be sown in early spring. They germinate best when soil temperatures are around 60°F and are quick to bring beauty to the garden.

Poppies are an excellent choice for gardeners trying to maximize their garden space. They provide incredible, early-season beauty and seed pods later in the season. The seed pods make lovely additions to dried arrangements and wreaths, and the seeds inside the pods are edible and perfect for baked goods and salad dressings.


Cosmos are some of the least finicky annual flowers. They’ll tolerate poor soils, partial shade, and drought once established. Direct sow cosmos when the soil is about 70°F after all danger of frost has passed or start them indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before your last frost for earlier blooms.

Some of our favorite heirloom cosmos include Mexican Cosmos, Sensation Mix Cosmos, and Mona’s Orange Cosmos (pictured above). They have a long bloom period, and deadheading encourages them to continue. They’ll also help to attract pollinators and birds, which eat the seeds, to your garden. The petals of Cosmos sulphureus are edible.


Zinnias are the queens of the cut flower garden. The great thing about zinnias is that the more you cut, the more they’ll keep blooming. If you’re not using them for cut flowers and just want to enjoy them in the garden, keep up with deadheading to prolong their bloom period.

We carry two heirloom zinnias Peruvian Red and Peruvian Yellow. They’re both easy to direct sown after your last frost. They can also be started indoors and transplanted out after your last frost date for earlier blooms.


Don’t think of sunflowers as ordinary. There is so much variation in sunflower varieties. From the frosted looking Silverleaf Sunflower to the towering 7 to 9 foot stalks of the Seneca Sunflower to the brilliant blooms of Red Torch Tithonia there’s something for everyone.

Sunflowers are easy to grow, and a great choice for gardening with young children; their large seeds are easy to sow. Larger varieties also make excellent trellises for pole beans and other vining plants.


These tall spikes of flowers are biennial, meaning they bloom the second year. They can be started indoors or direct sown. Plant hollyhocks in areas that receive full sun. Check out our post Cottage Garden: Growing Hollyhocks for more instructions. 

Especially in windy areas, hollyhocks may need staking to prevent lodging. You can also grow them along a fence and use twine or fabric to secure them as they mature. Hollyhocks will self-seed and if allowed to naturalize in a bed, can provide blooms every year. 

Heirloom Flowers (Grandpa Ott's Morning Glories)

Morning Glories

An old favorite, morning glories produce vigorous vines climbing up to 15 feet! Their trumpet-shaped flowers are excellent for attracting pollinators, and they look fantastic climbing fences and porch railings. They can be grown in the garden or in large containers. 

Morning glories should be planted with a trellis where they’ll receive full sun. Soak seeds two days before planting, changing the water every 12 hours for best results. Then direct sow or transplant them after frost.

One of our favorite morning glories is Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory (pictured above), a family heirloom from Diane Ott Whealy. This variety is one of the original varieties that started Seed Saver’s Exchange and the whole heirlooms movement. 


While there are some perennial asters, the heirloom aster we carry, Crego Giant Mixed Colors, is a large annual. They grow up to 3 feet tall and make excellent cut flowers.

Asters can be easily direct sown or transplanted. They germinate best when the soil temperature reaches 70°F and should be planted after your last frost in a spot that receives full sun.

Love-Lies-Bleeding (Amaranth)

Crimson tassels up to 24 in. long “drip” from these showy plants. Love-Lies-Bleeding looks excellent in floral displays, whether fresh or dried. 

This striking heirloom requires little care. Direct sow Love-Lies-Bleeding after the danger of frost has passed. It should be planted in full sun and is rather drought-resistant. Larger plants may benefit from staking for the best display.


A native perennial, coreopsis is excellent for attracting pollinators and birds to your garden. It’s also a great natural dye and yields a broad range of colors. 

Coreopsis is an annual plant, but it self-sows readily and will naturalize in meadow plantings. Direct sow or transplant out coreopsis after danger of frost has passed in full sun or partial shade. 

Jewels of Opar (Fame Flower)

This purslane relative is easy to grow and has a multitude of uses! The mild, succulent leaves are great in salads and sandwiches or as a spinach substitute. Native to parts of the South and the Caribbean, it also has a history of medicinal use. The seed stalks are great additions to dried arrangements with seed pods that dry to shades of orange, red, brown, gold, and grey.

Transplant or direct sow Jewels of Opar after all danger of frost has passed. Self-sowing readily, Jewels of Opar may naturalize. It’s perennial in zones 8 and up.

Find out more about growing Jewels of Opar here.

Growing heirlooms helps preserve biodiversity and makes your garden unique! Plant a few of these ten easy-to-grow heirloom flowers this season. 

Starting a Cottage Garden

If you’ve been dreaming of flower gardens of spring, odds are you’ve come across enchanting images of care-free looking cottage gardens. Their vibrant colors and seamless blend of plants are a pleasure to look at, especially in the depths of this cold winter! If you’re considering creating a cottage garden on your property this spring, here’s a bit of advice.

How to Start a Cottage Garden

Like so much of gardening, building a cottage garden is an exercise in patience. Many of those beautiful cottage gardens you see on Instagram and Pinterest have been created over years. Gardeners slowly adding perennials, shrubs, and self-sowing flowers as they hone their style and skill through trial and error.

Plan to start small. Choose a few of your favorite varieties and maybe a shrub or two. You don’t want to spend tons on seeds and plants only to realize it’s too much for you to care for or some aren’t suited to your garden or style. 

Find friends or local gardeners who have similar tastes. You can swap seeds, cuttings, and perennial divisions with friends to help expand your garden more quickly and affordably. 

If you have a large area that you’re set on planting, consider seeding a section of it in a wildflower mix. Mixes are great for pollinators and other wildlife. They also allow you to try many new flower varieties and are generally low-maintenance.

Red Drummond Phlox for a Cottage Garden
Red Drummond Phlox

Flowers and Plants for Cottage Gardens

One of the best things about cottage gardens is that there are no hard rules. You can play with the varieties you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try blending in a few herbs or even vegetables. Here are just a few of the types that spring up in many cottage garden scenes:

  • Hollyhocks

    These biennial flowers invoke images of English countryside gardens. We carry Outhouse Hollyhocks with a mix of deep red, pink, and white blooms and Black Hollyhocks with satin blue-black flowers.

  • Strawberries

    Strawberries make a beautiful, spreading ground cover with leaves that turn red in the fall. They’re fun for children and adults alike to snack on as a they wander through the flowers.

  • Bee Balm

    Bee balm is also called bergamot or monarda. This unique-looking native flower is medicinal and a favorite of hummingbirds. It prefers moist soil and will thrive in partial shade.

  • Daffodils

    The quintessential spring flower, daffodils, are great naturalizing bulbs to tuck into your garden next fall. They bring cheery, early color to the landscape. 

  • Delphinium

    Also called Larkspurs, these annuals bring a lot of color to cottage-style gardens. The name Delphinium originated with the ancient Greeks. It’s derived from the Greek word “Delphis,” which means dolphin. The Greeks thought that the flower bud resembled the shape of a dolphin’s nose.

  • Echinacea (coneflowers)

    Hardy, native, medicinal, self-seeding, and great for attracting pollinators, these native flowers are a must-have. Note that when starting seeds indoors, echinacea seeds do best when they go through cold stratification. We carry four varieties at SESE. 

  • Sweet Peas

    These spring beauties are a favorite for cottage gardens. They add splashes of color and height early in the season, but you’ll need a sturdy trellis.

  • Lavender

    Fragrant and medicinal, growing lavender from seed is worth the effort. We carry perennial English Munstead Lavender, which looks excellent in solitary clumps or lining pathways.

  • Foxglove

    These towering spires of colorful bell-shaped flowers look like something out of fairytale. They’re ideal for adding height to beds.

    All parts of foxglove are toxic. Be careful planting these in gardens visited by young children and pets.

  • Chives

    Chives are both tasty and beautiful. Their subtle purple flowers look great mixed with other brilliant colored flowers.

  • Phlox

    There are many species of phlox that come in a range of colors and heights. The Red Drummond Phlox that we carry is good for pollinators and adding color to the fall garden. The blooms are very hardy surviving down to 20°F.

  • Thyme

    Creeping Thyme’s lemony aroma and creeping nature make it an excellent ground cover for cottage gardens and rock beds.

  • Swiss Chard

    Chard’s lush, deep green leaves add an edible element to your flower garden and look stunning throughout the summer. For a splash of color, consider Prismatic Rainbow Chard or Ruby Red. Fordhook Giant Chard is an excellent choice for larger visual interest.

There are a few additional considerations when selecting varieties. Choose varieties with varying bloom times to keep your garden looking lush and colorful all season. You also want to look at what conditions they grow best in, such as partial shade or sandy soil.

You may also want to repeat colors or patches of specific varieties to help create a cohesive look throughout your garden.

Other Additions

In addition to the plants, trees, and shrubs, cottage gardens frequently contain other features to give them interest. You’ll see gardens with winding pea gravel pathways, fountains, birdbaths, trellises, and fences. As each cottage garden is as unique as its gardener, you can feel free to use whatever elements speak to you, whether it’s a white picket fence to line with hollyhocks or an old iron bed frame covered with vining morning glories. 

Maintaining a Cottage Garden

While they tend to give the impression of having sprung up naturally, cottage gardens can take quite a bit of maintenance. 


How often you need to water will depend on various factors, including the varieties you’ve chosen, your location, and the weather each year. While some flowers are more drought-resistant than others, like echinacea, most flowers will produce more blooms when they receive adequate water. 

If you want a low-maintenance garden, it may be worth investing in drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or a sprinkler that you can set to a timer.


Many flowers will have longer bloom periods if you consistently deadhead them. This means that you remove spent flowers. Some varieties that do well with this include zinnias, hollyhocks, sweet peas, petunias, cosmos, delphiniums, and bee balm.

Keep Plantings in Check

You may notice that many cottage gardens include flowers like rudbeckia that tend to naturalize and spread on their own. To prevent these from pushing out other less vigorous varieties, you may need to weed them out of areas you don’t want them to spread. You can also share clumps with others or move them to new places in your garden. 

Dividing Perennials

Some perennials like phlox, heuchera (coral bells), and chives perform best with periodic dividing. You’ll want to divide them every couple of years to keep them looking fresh and thriving. Thankfully, this is another great opportunity to expand your garden or share with friends. 

Cottage gardens are a fantastic choice for creating a garden that represents your uniques style and grows with you. Use these tips as a starting point as you grow your own.