This summer I’ve been home for two months straight for the first time possibly since my teens.
As a result my “flower babies,” as I call them, have received a lot more attention.
Part of my morning ritual is deadheading my petunias. It sounds like something out of a horror movie but is actually quite therapeutic, for the plant and me. I lovingly sort through all the little stems and find the flowers that are on their way out. Then I gently grab just the head of the dying flower and put it in the compost.
This leaves the plant looking a little sparse right after the deadheading. A couple of days after this process, though, my petunias go gangbusters. New blooms are everywhere, and my little babies explode with vitality.
Last summer, because of my travel schedule, I only tended to my flower babies sporadically. As a result my petunias died by early July. It made me incredibly sad, but there was nothing to be done but put them in the compost.
This summer I vowed to be a better flower mama. (It’s unbelievable how much joy raising healthy plants brings me. I’m finding myself considering the lives of my flower babies before saying yes or no to a trip. Who knew?)
When my mom taught me about deadheading it was a revelation. She told me that, if the petunia has lots of flowers that have died, it gets the message that it’s time to go to seed. Basically, it shuts down and expires.
When the dead flower heads are regularly removed, however, new buds can come through, and the plant gets the message that there’s plenty of space and energy for new growth.
LIFE AS A PETUNIA
The first time I saw the robust flowers that appeared a few days after my deadheading, I couldn’t help but think about my life as a petunia.
Every life has some dying flower heads that need to be lovingly removed to create space for new growth.
If you want to find the dead heads in your life, ask yourself:
What or who has been draining my energy?
How do I feel after spending time with the people in my life?
Where in my life do I not receive as much as I give?
What projects make me groan when I sit down to work on them?
Which projects just sit on my desk and never get touched because they feel expired even before they’ve been completed?
What habits detract from my vitality?
IT’S NOT FAILURE. IT’S NATURE.
Before I grew petunias I sometimes thought of letting go of nonmaterial things as sad, or even disappointing because it indicated failure.
But my little petunias have taught me a thing or two about the circle of life.
It is the nature of a flower to bud, bloom, and then die. The fact that its time as a vibrant blossom has ended doesn’t make it a failure as a flower. It’s simply fulfilled its flower life, if you will, and now it is time for a new healthy bloom to do the same. This is what serves the vitality and well-being of the whole petunia.
When you tend to your life and business and look for blossoms that have expired on a daily basis, the deadheading takes very little time and energy. A little regular maintenance goes a long way.
When you deadhead regularly, the ecosystem of your life gets the message to keep growing and keep blooming. If you don’t, well, your life thinks it’s going to seed.
We choose to grow by letting go of what’s no longer working. Sometimes this requires some mourning. Go there with your full heart and soul.
Each time you deadhead something in your life, even if it feels sad, remember: you are not a failure for letting go. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this person or project. And there’s certainly not anything wrong with you.
It’s just time for new blossoms to grow.
What needs to be dead headed in your life?