lessons from my garden: is it time to deadhead?


I am still a plant serial killer. I really do love flowers, though. So I’m trying to acquire new skills to help keep my flowers blooming all season long.

One of the things I’ve learned is that every gardener has to learn to deadhead. Now I love Jerry Garcia as much as the next girl, but don’t confuse deadheading with being a Dead Head. Deadheading is really just removing dead flowers from the plant. This lets the plant keep producing new flowers all season. Like us, the plant only has so much energy to expend. Getting rid of the dead flowers frees up energy to produce new flowers.

As I was deadheading my African violet this morning, it occurred to me life is a lot like gardening. You have to deadhead decaying things in your life, or you won’t have the energy you need to produce flowers all season long.

Close your eyes and think about your life. Is anything dead or decaying? Is it something that can be resuscitated? If not, maybe it’s time to cut it off.

How’s your career going? It’s easy to play it safe and stay with the job you have. But sometimes you have to find the job you love. Find your calling.

I have a friend who is getting her degree as a physical therapy assistant. She saw the need to change her life, and she’s doing it. She didn’t let the fact that she’d be 51 when she graduated stop her. She realized she’d be 51 either way. She snipped her old career off the vine. Now she has an exciting, new career ready to blossom for the rest of her season.

Are you in a relationship that has run its course? It is easy to stay in a relationship out of obligation, habit or fear. Have you ever stayed with someone because you thought, “maybe this is the best I can do?” You can never be with the person you’re meant to be with unless you’re willing to deadhead the wrong ones from your life.

There’s a difference between a relationship that needs to be resuscitated and one that needs to be stripped from the vine. I can’t tell you what that difference is. I don’t need to tell you. Listen to your little voice. It knows.

How is your house looking? Is it overrun with clothes that don’t fit? Kitchen appliances that never get used? Knick knacks and geegaws that need to be dusted on a regular basis?

Start small. It’s amazing how much you can clear in ten or fifteen minutes a day. I started by sorting through one drawer at a time every morning before work. A year later, I have one, scary hall closet left that needs to be deadheaded. The rest of the house is emptier than it’s been since I was a newlywed and everything I owned fit in a little U-Haul trailer.

Change is scary. The unknown is scary. It is easier to stay in a situation you know, even if it’s a bad one, than move into the unknown. What if the alternative is worse than what you have now? What if this job is the best you can do? What if nobody else will ever love you? What if they quit selling ridiculous appliances like quesadilla makers and dehydrators? Than what will I do?

It’s easier to maintain the status quo than to change. It’s easier to let the plants on the patio go to seed, limbs hanging low with dead flowers. The reward for spending a few minutes each day deadheading is months of riotously colored blooms brightening up your day.

Like the plants on my patio, I only have so much energy to expend each day. I choose to spend that energy on the people and activities that help me blossom.

We will never throw beautiful blooms for all of our season unless we’re willing to deadhead all the decaying flowers from our life.

Question: What do you need to deadhead from your life? What’s stopping you? Aren’t you ready for your life to blossom like the petunias on your back patio?

9 thoughts on “lessons from my garden: is it time to deadhead?

  1. Sometimes you have to deadhead people from your life who you love, but are still no good for you. Think of it as loviing them from afar!

    • You’re right – how much you love someone doesn’t necessarily line up with how good or bad they are for you! It’s definitely easier to recognize a deadhead on a plant than it is in a person.

  2. Great post! Lovely pics. Right now I’m deadheading issues from my past, throwing them in the compost pile so they can be used to help other things grow. And, as it’s spring and I’ll soon be swapping closet over getting rid of excess clothing to pass on. Lastly, going to clear out many of my knick knack treasures as I have too many to dust. Plus I can then convert another shelf over to make more room for my african violets.

    • Lovely analogies! I hadn’t thought of composting all those deadheads, but that is what I’m doing with my blog, too.

      You’re going to love all the extra shelf space! You can never have too many African violets. 🙂

      See you in the blogs!

  3. Pingback: Peony – Bowl of Beauty | Landscaping - Gardening

  4. Pingback: lessons from my garden (or I am ready for new soil) | my balanced life

  5. As always, an excellent blog which speaks to many about many things. I look forward to your blog. Great job, counselor!

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