Want to know how to deadhead penstemon? Deadheading your penstemon plants is an essential task to keep your plants blooming colorful flowers throughout the growing season.
It’s easy to grow and maintain penstemons and they do well in mass planting and borders, making them the perfect plants for beginners. They thrive best under full or partially shaded sunlight. They also prefer to be planted in moist, well-draining soil.
All of these factors can make or break the growth of your plants. But even if you get everything right – water, soil, and sunlight – your penstemon plants may still grow leggy and woody if you don’t prune and deadhead them every year.
How to Prune Your Penstemon Plants
Penstemons grow well in USDA zones 4 through 9. This means they’re drought-tolerant, but some hybrid plants may need to be watered frequently. Annual pruning is also a part of proper penstemon care. Gardeners mainly prune their plants so they will grow new shoots and therefore, extending the blooming season and protecting the plants from frost. Additionally, pruning is also a great way to maintain the appearance of your plants.
Pruning penstemons in the spring
Spring pruning is mainly for improving the growth of new shoots. Remove old stems once your plants develop new ones during the spring season. In this way, your penstemons will focus their energy on growing healthy flowers and shoots.
Before you start pruning, examine your plant to see whether the new shoots developed from the plant’s base or old stems.
Growth from old stems
If the shoots came from old stems, trim the stems just above the new shoots.
Growth from the base of the plant
In this case, you can cut back the old stems by trimming them to the soil level.
No new growth
If shoots didn’t form, you can cut back the entire plant as you normally should (above the lowest set of true leaves).
Pruning penstemons in the winter
Another reason to prune penstemons is to protect them from frost and snow. Cut back your penstemons to a few inches above the ground and cover the soil with a thick layer of mulch to retain heat. For places with mild winters, you can cut back your plants about a third once they’re done flowering. Remember to leave enough leaves to protect your plants from the cold.
How to Deadhead Penstemon
Many gardeners use the terms deadheading and pruning interchangeably; but while both are similar, there is a slight difference between the two: deadheading refers to the removal of spent flowers from plants. On the other hand, pruning pertains to trimming any part of the plant.
Now that you know how to prune your plants, the next step is to learn how to deadhead penstemon. Here’s how:
There are two ways your penstemons can benefit from deadheading: it promotes the growth of new shoots and more flowers and it prevents seed formation in unwanted areas in your garden. Cut underneath the set of healthy leaves located below the flowers. If you want seeds, you can leave a few flower stalks on your penstemon.
How to Propagate Penstemon
You can propagate penstemon through stem cuttings, root division, or seeds. The best time to start sed propagation is when the last scare of frost has passed and the soil is warmer. If you want your flowers to bloom early, you can also start your seed indoors. Just make sure to plant them in well-draining soil, mist them, and cover your plants loosely.
On the other hand, the best time to propagate via stem cuttings is during summer or fall. Cut nonflowering stem tips underneath the leaf nodes. Remove the tips and the set of leaves at the bottom. Dip the bottom of the stem in rooting powder before you plant them in a pot filled with a combination with compost and perlite.
Another way to propagate penstemon is through root division. You divide the roots to produce separate plants. You’ll need to carefully dig out your plant every two to three years to get roots.
Taking care of propagated penstemon
Keep your stem cuttings in a shaded area with good ventilation. Be sure to place your plants indoors during colder seasons. Once your penstemons grow new leaves, you can transplant them into your garden or to a larger pot. Place them in an area with partial or full sun. Don’t overwater your plants to prevent the roots from rotting. Lastly, add balanced fertilizer every year during the spring season.
Why Grow Your Penstemons in a Mini Greenhouse?
There are several reasons why you should try growing your penstemons in a mini greenhouse. For one, you can protect them from pests that like to munch on your flowers and leaves, such as aphids, thrips, and caterpillars. They’re also vulnerable to root rot, rust, and powdery mildew. Growing them in an enclosed space reduces the risk of damaging your plants.
Mini greenhouses are also useful in protecting tender perennials from bad weather. Placing them inside protects them from ice, snow, frost, heavy rains, and high winds. They can stay healthy inside a mini greenhouse until you can replant them outside when the weather warms.
Final Thoughts on How to Deadhead Penstemon
Penstemons are easy to grow and cultivate since they don’t need much attention and maintenance. As long as you know the basics and how to deadhead penstemon, you’re good to go. Penstemons are a great choice for colorful blooms during spring.