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How to trim annuals

Annual plants complete a full life cycle -- from seed to death -- in a single growing season. While some gardeners dislike the need to replant every spring there are many that see the benefits of planting annuals in their landscape: wider variety of colors, less expensive, no need to divide plants over time, and they can be easily switched out for something different.
Just because they have a short growing season doesn't mean though that you can't have beautiful blossoms throughout much of the plant's lifespan. Keeping your annuals trimmed will help to promote lush, dense growth and continued blooms.
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1. Dead head spent flowers
As flower blooms pass their prime, it's best to remove them regularly to encourage the plant to generate new blossoms. This can be done by pinching them with your fingers or using garden shears to remove spent flowers. Gardening Info Zone talks about the why and how of deadheading your plants.
2. Pinch back leggy plants
Sometimes plants can become tall and spindly, or "leggy" as seasoned gardeners will call it. When this happens pinch off the tops of the plants using your fingers or garden shears. This encourages the plant to produce more side shoots creating a bushier plant.
3. Trim lateral buds off stems
When growing plants such as peonies or carnations where you would like one single plant per stem, trim off the lateral buds before they are allowed to fully develop. This will send all nutrients and resources to the single bud left at the end of the stem. Unsure of what a lateral bud is? Check out Dave's Garden for an explanation.
4. Remove terminal buds
If you remove the terminal bud from a stem, this encourages the plant to produce more smaller buds from lateral buds. This will mean more blooms on your plant and more color in your garden.
5. Discard diseased tissue
If you have any plants that are showing symptoms of diseases or other fungal problems, it's imperative to remove the damaged tissue(s) and properly discard of them. This will minimize the spread of infection between plants.
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6. Use clean, sharp equipment
When trimming plants, it's important to make sure any implements you use are clean and sharp. This will help to prevent the transmission of disease between plants and sharp cuts will minimize damage that occurs to plant tissue.
Resources Banner Image Credit, Gardening Info Zone, and Dave's Garden
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