Why should we prune annual plants?

The reason why we tip prune; or as it is also known, dead-head plants is to prolong and maximise their flowering period - after all, the reason why we grow most annual plants is for the beautiful floral display that they put on for us.

The reason why tip pruning prolongs flowering is due to the reason why plants flower in the first place - plants flower and then set seed in order to reproduce. Once they set seed, that stage of their life-cycle is complete and there is then no further reason to produce more flowers - their energy is being put into seed production, not flower production. For a perennial plant, this means until the next season; for an annual plant, this means ever again - their job is now done and once the seeds have been dispersed, it will be up to the next generation to continue the species.

So, tip-pruning prevents energy from being directed in to seed setting, and therefore encourages the development of more flowers - in a way, the plant is being tricked into producing more flowers because it believes it needs to do this to produce seeds for reproduction.

How to prune annual plants

This process varies from one species to another, but generally, you must remove more than just the flower petals. It is important to remove all the remnants of the flower - most importantly this includes the mature seed pod or fruit. To be certain, identify the stalk of the flower and cut or pinch it off at its base.

The video below gives you a visual demonstration of this pruning process.

Purple Petunias
About the author: Steve McLean
I am an educator and passionate gardener and traveler. I love helping others to grow productive gardens and am always looking for new ways to develop my own gardening knowledge. I believe that that by working together with gardening as a common theme for us all, the world will be a better place.