Deadheading is the practice of cutting spent flowers off a plant. This is often done to encourage the plant to bloom again.
The reason the plant blooms again is because its life cycle was interrupted. A flower ‘dies’ after it has been pollinated; the plant then sheds the parts that are involved in pollination and puts its energy into forming a seed. Cutting off the flower at this stage destroys the seed – in effect, it causes the plant to miscarry.
Successful completion of seed formation is, of course, necessary for the next generation of plants to be produced. Seeds are also a critical food source for birds and other animals over the winter.
Some people find seedheads and baby plants to be unsightly, and want their garden to have a longer blooming season without the ‘mess’. Understanding that flowers are just one stage of a plant’s life cycle, and that blossomdrop and seedheads are important stages too, can help us see the beauty in a garden that changes over the course of a year.