I really enjoy deadheading roses – or rather as the outgoing Head Gardener at Mottisfont Abbey Rose Gardens prefers, removing the spent blooms. It is a very satisfying job in the garden, and has an immediate effect on the look of a rose bush. It is a quiet job, allowing you time to take a closer look at each variety, noticing the flower form, paying attention to the different scents and naturally, you are on the look out for any pests and diseases. It is this kind of garden husbandry that, if done regularly, picks up on potential problems before they become unmanageable. By deadheading, the rose is stimulated into producing new flowers, if it is a repeat-flowering variety that is – once-flowering or summer flowering varieties that go on to produce noteworthy hips should not be treated in this way. The spent blooms should be left well alone and you will be rewarded later in the year with a colourful treat and a wildlife larder for the birds.
If there are clusters of flowers, these can be removed just below the flower until the last flower has gone over, then the whole spray can be removed a little way down the stem, at least two leaf-joints lower down. I generally take a more liberal view in deadheading and cut the stem at least 4″-5″ below the fading flower. It will be a little slower to re-bloom, but the stems ought to be thicker and stronger than if you just cut behind the flower, or went down to the first leaf joint below the flower.
The product of your labours, the old flower heads, also looks rather pretty!