Have you ever pinched something? Then you can probably master the technique of deadheading.
Simply put, if you want your plants to start making seeds and stop making as many flowers, then just leave them be. If you want your plant to make more flowers, taking off the tired, raggedy old flowers will most likely help.
Some plants only make a few flowers, no matter what you do. But if you have impatiens, petunias, many kinds of roses, and most annual bedding plants, snipping off old flowers is mostly likely going to mean that the plants will flower for a longer period of time and produce even more flowers.
Because I'm kind of a lazy gardener, I have mostly perennials at Dirt Cottage. Some of them, like the Stella d'Oro daylilies, would benefit from pinching off old flowers or – more likely – the pod people seed nodules – but I'm not religious about it.
However, the impatiens on the porch get regular care and plenty of pinching. I have coffee on the porch weekend mornings and an occasional adult beverage while sitting there in the evenings drenched in Skeeter Begone.
To deadhead an impatien or any fleshy, soft-stemmed flower, firmly grasp right below the flower between your thumb and forefinger and simply twist and pull. If you have nails, get them into the action.
You want all of the action to happen to the flower's stem and not pull the whole plant out of the soil, so this should be a quick action that doesn't involve a lot of muscle. If you have a flower with a stiff stem, cut off the flower using garden shears or a sharp pair of scissors.
If you don't have a lot of flowers, you can just flick the discards into the flower bed. If you have a lot, I have an easy 1-2-3 method of getting rid of them that helps your other plants. (Check out the photo gallery if you need a visual aid.)
1) Put the discards into a container.
2) Take the container to a rather full plant, one where you can't see the ground underneath.
3) Dump the old blossoms underneath the plant and sweep any you can still see underneath the leaves until they are no longer visible.