I know that this is hard for many people. The annuals you’ve planted early in the summer are finally starting to put out their first flowers, and some gardener like me tells you to cut those off immediately. “What?” you think… “I’m supposed to get rid of the color I’ve been waiting three weeks for?” Yes. Do it.
Annuals are on a mission to create seeds for the future, and the flowers are the first step in fulfilling that goal. But your goal is to have as many flowers in the brief summer season as possible. So your job is to say to that plant, “Not so fast! You have to make many, many more flowers before you make seeds.” and the first step in conveying that message is to cut off that first flower. This will prompt the plant to produce more stems and become bushier, which will also lead to more flowers. Win win, I say…more color for you and more opportunities for creating seeds for the plant.
Here are photos from my Annual Alley that prove the point.
Don’t be afraid…cut those first annual flowers off! Just do it.
Thank you for the info !!!
Thanks for this great article!useful info! Will share!
I see the wisdom , but my question is why can’t I just cut them for a bouquet? Is there a reason you just only cut the flower head off and leave the stem attached in the plant?
A great question, Rebecca. Early in the summer the stems on these annuals haven’t lengthened very much. So if I cut even a 3 or 4 inch stem for putting them into small vases I’d also be, in most cases, removing the two flower buds below the top one. So these could be put in tiny vases if you’d like, or floated in a bowl of water. I get the same pleasure from seeing the colorful cuttings in the basket, and I know that I’ll have dozens of bouquet flowers with longer stems by the end of July. In fact, I’ll update the blog now with a photo from today, the 21st of July.