Have you ever noticed that there seems to be a raging debate in the gardening world this time of year about what to do about plants that are primarily grown for their foliage–like the hosta in my photo above–and their flowers?
The other plant that also seems to get a lot of “press” (if that’s the right word) is coleus. There’s always a raging debate about whether coleus flowers should be left alone or should be immediately cut off as soon as they show signs of forming.
I have never really entered into these debates before but I will tell you what my prior practices have been, how they have changed, and why.
With coleus, I used to cut the flowers off. I thought that they were insignificant and didn’t do anything for the plant. Further, since I was usually growing the coleus as part of an all foliage container, the flowers didn’t really conform to that.
Then of course life happens. I don’t know what exactly happened–I suspect that I had another emergency like this month and I had to go out of town for a bit.
By the time I came back, all my coleus were flowering madly and to my surprise, the flowers were covered with pollinators. So now when I grow them, as much as I may not care for the flowers, they stay as pollinator plants.
With respect to the hosta, I don’t feel the same way. Their flowers at least are interesting and I have one that is quite fragrant. So I have rarely been inclined to deadhead the hosta flowers before they bloom.
They too are attractive to bees, which is another reason for me to keep them.
And they lend some mid-season interest to the garden as well.
I have even seen the dead flower stalks left standing in the winter, giving winter interest to a garden ( not mine–I wish I had thought of it!)
So I guess that I fall clearly into the “don’t cut” camp at this point, although that wasn’t always so. But that’s what’s great about gardening. Every year is different so you can change your mind along with your plant palette.