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How to deadhead Penstemon?

CraighBCraighB Posts: 738
Hi all,

I know it's very early in the season to be thinking about cutting back Penstemon but I was watching a video online which has confused me about deadheading them.

So I thought that when it's time to deadhead you cut the spike just below where the flowers started at the nearest leaf joint. However some guy online says if you deadhead this high up the stem you will not get the best flower spike as a result and suggests literally removing the whole stem to close to the ground at the lowest leaf joint. He said doing the deadheading this far down the stem will produce a better flower spike as the stem will be thicker at the base.

Is this what other people do? or do you deadhead just below where the flowers start?

Thanks :)


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  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 7,900
    I can see his point, although I cut usually about to half way, as the stem is thicker there..   I cut back my Penstemons last week, by about half, although I have one variety called 'Plum Jerkum' which I've left quite bushy with a light trim.  I don't care if it's right or wrong, that's the way I do it...   best of luck with yours.  The variety 'Westminster Belle' is one of my personal favourites, just to say... and has survived the winter weather totally unscathed...
    East Anglia, England
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,706
    At this time of year, I cut them down to where the new shoots are obviously growing. Later in the season I just cut off spent flowers. It is usual to leave most of the top growth on over winter, supposedly to protect the plant.
  • CraighBCraighB Posts: 738
    Sorry I should have mentioned I don't mean at the beginning of the growing season. I meant later in the summer when each flower spike begins to fade. Do you cut just under the flower spike near the top of the plant or closer to the ground in order to get a second flush of flowers?
  • CraighBCraighB Posts: 738
    My aim is to get a second flush of flowers after the first lot has finished
  • Papi JoPapi Jo Posts: 3,866
    I can't see the point of dead-heading lower than the flower spike!
    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • CraighBCraighB Posts: 738
    Well the point the guy online was making was that if you deadhead right underneath the flower spike, the stem there is quite thin and the second flush of flowers won't be as good as if you cut them down towards the base. He says if you cut them towards the base where the stem is thicker, the second flush of flowers will be so much better. Apparently.
  • BijdezeeBijdezee Posts: 1,484
    Mine are all cut back and shooting up with new growth already so i dont think its too early unless you live in Inverness etc
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 10,313
    If you remove the dead spike just below the dead flowers, there will be several more spikes ready to take over from lower leaf nodes - so maybe you'll get 7 smaller flower spikes.
    If you cut lower down, there will be less leaf nodes so you'll get fewer spikes which will be bigger, so maybe you'll only get 3 flower spikes, but they'll be bigger
    So it's up to you.
    Mine flower profusely throughout the season and I just chop off the dead spikes without much attention. Personally I wouldn't stress too much on this point - try a bit of both.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Papi JoPapi Jo Posts: 3,866
    I agree with Pete
    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
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