My least-favorite garden chore

Photo courtesy Ball Horticultural Co.
Easy Wave Petunia Burgundy Star
The easiest way to deadhead coreopsis is to wait till almost all of the flowers have faded and then shear the plants.

I hate to dust! But I don't mind ironing. I know that has nothing to do with gardening (except that I often escape to the garden to avoid dusting). But it does point to a truism: When it comes to household tasks, it's not necessarily those that are the hardest or most time-consuming that we dislike the most.

After all, dusting isn't difficult. And it doesn't have to take a long time, even to do the best job possible (and my dusting is at least a notch or two below that standard). But I'll do almost anything to avoid it.

My outdoor equivalent of dusting is deadheading. It's a mindless chore, completely routine. And deadheading does produce a couple of nice rewards to thank a gardener for pinching off the old, spent blossoms -- a neater, better-looking plant that produces more flowers.

So I realize that it isn't logical to want to avoid deadheading. But, logic or not, I don't want to deadhead. I want all flowers to be like annual vinca (Madagasar periwinkle) and be "self-cleaning" (that means the old flowers fall off the plants by themselves).

Unfortunately, most flowers aren't like that. So I spend more time than I'd like each summer pinching off the spent blooms from big pots of geraniums, cutting back old flower stalks from daylilies and hostas, and shearing coreopsis.

But where I draw the line is petunias. I never buy petunias for my garden. They produce so many flowers, all of which eventually have to be removed. And if you don't do it regularly (like twice a week), you have to pay attention to make sure you aren't cutting off future flowers instead of incipient seed pods.

The funny thing is, though, even though I never buy petunias, I almost always have them in my garden. Every year one plant company or another sends me at least one six-pack of petunias to trial. This year it was Easy Wave Petunia Burgundy Star from Ball Horticultural Co.

In the beginning, I had my doubts about the color -- I wondered whether the dark reddish-purple [definitely darker than this photo] would clash with my other flowers. (Most of my urban "garden" is in huge pots.) But it didn't. The flowers are attractive, and it's been a prolific bloomer – even in June, when Boston had only four rain-free days.

So, if I were a fan of petunias, I'd definitely buy Easy Wave Petunia Burgundy Star in the future. It's a winner. But why can't someone invent a "self-cleaning" petunia?

What's your least-favorite garden chore?  And which petunias are your faves?

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