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How to Deadhead Sunflowers: Complete Guide

Sunflower heads last for 6-12 days, depending on the variety and growing environment. Before you harvest, allow some time to deadhead heads to get the most out of Sunflower. 

To deadhead sunflowers, look for droopy, wilting, or spent blossoms and snip right below the spent flower. Make sure to leave as many leaf nodes intact as possible.

Generally, annual sunflowers produce seeded heads in summer as well as autumn, while perennial ones flower from July to October.

So, if you are new to deadheading sunflowers, let this article be your guide. 

Should you Deadhead Sunflowers?

Sunflower is an easy-to-grow plant that does not require intensive care.

But sometimes, the blooms may not turn out how you expected them to be due to anomalies like lack of sunlight, molds, an infestation of pests and diseases, etc.

Beautiful Sunflower
Sunflowers are one of the most popular yellow perennials that add color to your garden and keep coming back each year

In these conditions, you should deadhead the plant so that it can focus on new growth.

There is another technique called ‘pinching’ in which you can ‘pinch’ off the tips of younger plants to encourage bushier growth.

While deadheading and pinching share similar principal, deadheading is done to a mature Sunflower plant that has grown flowers.

There are numerous advantages to deadheading a sunflower. Let us take a look at a few of them.

  • Deadheading Sunflower will maintain the aesthetics of your garden.
  • The Sunflower can focus its energy on new growth if you remove the spent blooms.
  • Deadheading the Sunflower is better if you don’t want too many seeds to disperse in the field.
  • It will also prevent squirrels and birds from disturbing the other neighboring crops in the process.
On the contrary, you can choose not to deadhead Sunflower because you may be hindering its seed production, barring discoveries, or cutting the food source of different birds and animals.

Even if your Sunflower is potted, you can deadhead the flower if they are spent. However, if you plan to collect seeds, consider leaving the plant as they are.

When Should I Deadhead Sunflowers?

Whether or not to deadhead your Sunflower plants can be a hard decision to take. But, as deadheading has a lot of benefits, you know what you should go for now.

In general, the best time to deadhead Sunflowers is just before they start to produce seeds and begin to wither.

Here are some signs that your Sunflower needs deadheading.

  • The petals of the flowers have withered down
  • Insects have chewed off the petals
  • The petals have fallen
  • The flower has lost its vibrance and charm
Wilted Sunflower
You can deadhead the spent Sunflowers to encourage new growth.

However, before deadheading, remember that the Sunflower goes down with the sun daily. Respect the natural process and do not deadhead the flower at that time.

If you want to deadhead the Sunflower for seeds, you must wait for the petals to dry and fall off the plant. This is a prime sign that the flower has produced the necessary seeds.

The main purpose of deadheading the Sunflowers is to let it grow new flowers in the place of the spent ones.

So, you do not need to worry about the plant not shooting out new blooms because it will.

How to Properly Deadhead Sunflowers?

Now comes a daunting task: deadheading sunflowers. Deadheading may sound simple, but if you mess up one step, you could scar the plant for life.

With deadheading, you get one step closer to getting prettier blooms in your plant.

However, you should be cautious about various factors.

Materials Required to Deadhead Sunflowers

To ensure a smooth deadheading process, gather the following materials.

Gardening MaskVery useful if you are allergic to pollen
BasketTo collect snipped flowers
Pruning ShearsTo snip off the flower
Safety GogglesFor extra protection
Gardening GlovesTo protect the hands
Isopropyl AlcoholTo sterilize the gardening equipment

Now let us look at the location of Sunflowers and their deadheading process.

Deadheading Potted Sunflower Flowers

The process of deadheading indoor Sunflowers is slightly different than deadheading plants outdoor.

As the indoor Sunflowers do not grow as prominent as the outdoor Sunflowers, you can cut them or pinch them off using your hands.

deadheading sunflower with hand
Deadheading a potted sunflower is an important step in the growth of the sunflower.

For this, you need to look at the limp, wilting flowers, weak to the core, etc. Sterilize the scissors properly and cut the flowers right where it connects to the stem.

When potted Sunflowers are 10cm tall, cut them back or pinch them out, leaving two pairs of leaves on the stem.

Indoor Sunflowers already compromise the lighting needs, so ensure you provide ample sunlight to avoid stress.

Deadheading Outdoor Sunflowers

Sunflowers prefer to grow in the bright sunlight outdoors.

These plants get to grow fully in their favorable conditions, so they are unlikely to show any anomalies.

However, if the Sunflower’s petals are falling off prematurely and the blooms appear to be spent, you must deadhead them to promote new growth.

Deadheading the Sunflower is not a difficult task. Let us go through the steps below.

  • Look for abnormal flowers (droopy, faded, dried, or spent) to deadhead them.
  • Examine the stem to be removed and look for the first set of leaves.
  • If the Sunflower has multiple stems, you can locate a new lateral flower or stem by looking down at the stem of a faded bloom.
  • Sterilize your tools properly before using them on the flowers.
  • Grab the flowering stem from its base and make an angled cut below the flower and a half inch above healthy leaves. 
  • Remove dead leaves to allow the Sunflower to focus its energy on new growth.
  • Gather the snipped Sunflower heads in the basket if you have no further use for them.
Deadheaded Sunflowers spend head
You can save Sunflower heads for seeds.

Note: Do not let spent Sunflower heads go to seed if you want to avoid reseeding.

Remember to follow the procedure carefully and not to hurt the surrounding stems, as the plant is fragile and can sustain severe damage.

What to do with Dead Sunflower Heads?

After you cut the Sunflower heads off the plant, you do not need to discard them completely.

Even spent Sunflower heads have a lot of use which can help you flourish and rejuvenate your garden.

Let us look at some of the uses of the snipped Sunflower heads.

  • If you have deadheaded the Sunflower after they have produced seeds, you can use the seeds to grow yourself a brand new Sunflower plant.
  • Sometimes the flower may not have incurred severe damage. In such cases, you can use them as a decoration arrangement.
Sunflower as decoration
Add Sunflower to your decoration to boost the aesthetics.
  • You can chop the flower heads into small pieces and use them as mulch or organic fertilizer.
  • Birds and some insects love munching on the Sunflower heads and seeds inside them. Keep the spent blossoms as food for needy animals.
  • As the flowers are non-toxic, you can use the petals as decoration for a food plate.
  • The petals can also be used to extract colors and pigments.

If they are useless to you, discard and dispose of them properly to avoid any injuries.

Care for the Sunflower After Deadheading

After successfully deadheading the plant, you cannot just go careless with the plant.

Follow the tips below to ensure the Sunflower plant produces healthy flowers after the deadheading session.

  • Let the plant stay in a location where it gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.
  • Ensure you have grown your Sunflower in nutrient-rich, loamy, and well-draining soil.
  • Your plant will need weekly watering until the soil’s top 5 to 6 inches is moist.
  • Fertilize your Sunflower with fertilizers rich in nitrogen and phosphorus to ensure better foliage and flower growth.
  • Keep deadheading the spent blooms regularly to promote new growth.
  • Keep an eye on the Sunflower moth, a dangerous pest that can lead your plant to death.

If you do the above things properly, you will be rewarded with healthy new sunflower blooms that you can be proud of.

You may want to read more about other Sunflowers including Sunflower leaves and Red Sunflower.

From Editorial Team


Sunflower is a beautiful plant to grow in your backyard, thanks to its bright yellow color and prominent green foliage.

However, you must make a hard choice and keep deadheading the plant to get more beautiful blooms.

Just follow the process carefully. Good luck!

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