En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Friday - August 17, 2007

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning
Title: Deadheading cannas and geraniums
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm new to gardening. Your help would be appreciated. 1) I think I read that canna flowers can be deadheaded so they will continue to bloom throughout the summer. What part is actually taken off? There is a round green pod that grows directly below the blooms. Does this get cut off along with the wilted blooms? What about the stem that remains above the leaves? 2) Can geraniums be deadheaded as well? Do I just take off the wilted blooms, or can I cut the stems off as well. Thank you so much for your help!

ANSWER:

We are assuming that the cannas you are raising as ornamentals are hybridized plants, bred for spectacular color. The entire genus of Canna is native to tropical and subtropical regions of North and South America, with some in southern South Carolina and southern Texas. The native Canna glauca (maraca amarilla) is not nearly as spectacular as the hybrids available in commerce, but a lovely plant, nevertheless. In response to your question on deadheading, this website on cannas (or canna lilies, although they are not true lilies) will give you lots of information on care of these colorful plants. The bright-colored "petals" that you see are not actually part of the blossom, which is small and insignificant looking. The "flowers" are actually staminodes and Nature's intention in creating the bright colors was to attract pollinators who collect nectar and pollen. According to the information we were able to find, it is always good to cut back the entire stalk on which a flower has faded. It is such a vigorous plant that the stalk will quickly be replaced by a new one with new blooms on it.

In response to your second question about deadheading geraniums, we have another question: "Which geranium?" As you know, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to promoting the care and preservation of native wildflowers, so we will deal first with the perennial natives that you might have in your garden in Texas: Geranium caespitosum (pineywoods geranium) , Geranium carolinianum (Carolina geranium) , and Geranium texanum (Texas geranium). These are all Geraniaceae (Geranium family). They would certainly benefit from deadheading, and it would contribute to more blooming.

It is more likely, however, that you are asking about members of the genus Pelargonium, for which "geranium" is the common name. These are subtropical in origin and, like the cannas, have been heavily hybridized in commerce. They are often used in pots for decorative purposes, and should be treated as annuals. Certainly remove blossoms that have begun to fade and dry, taking off the stem to the next joint. They can be broken off, but are better snipped with garden scissors. And snap off any dead leaves at the same time.


Canna glauca


Geranium caespitosum

Geranium carolinianum

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Survival of native yaupon in The Woodlands, TX after hurricane
September 25, 2008 - One of my large native yaupons trees (8ft) fell away from a group during the hurricane. I have uprighted and tied it off for stability. Now the leaves are all brown and falling. Is the tree dead or...
view the full question and answer

Can Live Oak suckers be mowed during Oak Wilt spread season in Austin?
April 12, 2010 - I live in South Austin, not too far from the Wildflower Center. I have a Live Oak in my yard with a substantial amount of sucker growth from the roots. Can I mow them freely throughout the year, or ...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back woody plants after freeze in Leander TX
December 10, 2009 - I have several woody shrubs in a prominent location. Now that the leaves have frozen, how far back should I cut them? These are Flame Acanthus, Salvia ballotiflora, and Aloysia macrostachya, but I w...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Copper Plants
February 06, 2013 - I planted two beautiful copper plants in my front beds. They went wild during the fall, but got so leggy that I cut them back nearly to the ground, which I believe was a mistake. Will they come back o...
view the full question and answer

When is the best time to trim oak trees in Driftwood TX?
September 09, 2010 - When is the best time to trim oak trees?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center