For most flowering plants, after finish blooming the flowers and stems will be wilted, dry and fall off. It is often recommended to remove the spent flowers to encourage new growths. However, there are plants that have sequential blooms where new flowers will grow again for few times or even few more years on the same stems. For sequential bloomers, it is better to leave the flowers alone when they are spent. Not long, another flower buds will grow again, and this can happen several times or sometimes for few years. If the flower stems look dead and dry after they have flowered for multiple times, it is a sign that there they are done and then can be cut off for good.

Some plants in our garden that have sequential blooms:

Psychopsis papilio Orchid:

This unusual orchid will grow more flowers on the same old stems for several years. Each spike will grow one single flower at a time, so it will be a consolation to have them to regrow more blooms for a few years. The left photo is a new flower bud which is growing on the old stem.

Crucifix Orchid:

Crucifix orchid (Epidendrum sp.) will continue to grow new flower buds on the tip of the same old stems  until they look kind of trailing and rambling. This habit of continual growth will make this orchid always in flower all year around.

Phalaenopsis Orchid:

If you don’t cut Phalaenopsis orchid flower stems after finished flowering, often enough new flowers will grow on the same stem. I read that some orchid growers prefer to cut the stems after flowering to encourage new leaf to grow, but some prefer to let the spent spike to have another chance to grow more flowers.

Fairy Iris:

Fairy Iris or Dietes grandiflora will bear many flowers if the flower stems are not cut off after finish flowering. As the plant grow in a clump of many individual plants, if the flower stems are removed, those individual plants will never grow more flowers. Instead the clump will grow more offshoots (pups) and usually it will take time before the new growth to produce flowers. If the flower stems are remained after flowering (which usually followed by the growth of seed pods), new lead will grow on these old stems where new flowers will grow again the following year. To keep it this way, the plant will flower many blooms every year.

Many fairy iris flowers that grew this season in our garden were grown on the old stems of the previous blooms, and many still had dried empty seed pods clinging.