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How are your petunias? On growing and dying.

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.

twitter_standingLetting go isn’t failure. It’s nature. (Tweet it.)

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.

twitter_standingWe’re either growing or dying. You choose. (Tweet it.)

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? Declare what you’re letting go of in the comments below!


  • What a timely post! I was just thinking about this last night. Over the last 2 months my life have changed dramatically. My family and I have moved from Okinawa Japan back to my home state of MA. What we thought would be a easy house hunting, has not gone smoothly. 2 offers and still no house! We’re staying at my parents house and listening to their chatter has been depleting. I don’t think I ever stopped to hear how negative and limiting their thoughts were. Hearing them speak to each other, my children and me, has been enlightening. I started to realize that much of the way I’ve lived my first 39 years has been with these thoughts in my background. I’ve played it safe, believing in scarcity, that you can’t live your dreams AND succeed, that to do what you loved meant to be poor, that anything different than me was scary.

    And while I’ve traveled the world and started my own business doing something I absolutely LOVE, those thoughts still persist.

    So I vowed last night to not let that be my next 39+ years! That I would see the abundance and power of this life, universe, GOD and let my children grow up in that world. I love my parents and the life they provided me, but it’s time to deadhead their beliefs that no long serve me.

  • What a beautiful message; letting go is an act of nature. I also believe that letting go can be an act of service and love to yourself and toward your ultimate sense of freedom. To play with the feelings you have about life and death brings you a deeper sense of the present. And that, yes o yes, is a true gift. Thank you for this blog today!

  • Just love what Rose says above about letting go as service: yet another life lesson from the garden.

    I, too, go through phases of neglecting my garden, yet whenever I hang out with it for more than a few superficial minutes, its bounty of wisdom is one of my greatest joys. Lately I get LOTS of reminders about self-care, the simple difference regular feeding, watering and sunshine can make to the beauty we impart to the world.

    How appropriate that you should refer to the flowers as your “babies”, Kate. The most potent teachers in our lives, bar none.

  • I love the analogy! I am learning it’a quite alright to leave behind those people who bring you down or worse, purposely try to bring you down

    Just yesterday I met a woman, as we were introduced by a mutual acquaintance who thought we could do exchange work as we both do chair massage I wouldn’t want this woman’s energy touching me!

    I appreciated myself for recognizing immediately that this woman was not someone I wanted to spend time with and so thankful I had another appointment to get to I graciously excused myself after an appropriate amount of time She was content to visit all afternoon

    Now I think I’ll go deadhead my petunias It is very relaxing


  • Katie

    Thank you so much for this post. The messages and lessons we need to hear seem to come in perfect timing. The message of “letting go and letting grow” really resonates today. I’m currently letting go of a toxic relationship and, hard as it is, my inner voice knows that there is new growth once I lovingly cut out this dying flower! Thank you for sharing, Kate. And thank you for all the good work you do.

  • Thank you I have been deadheading the petunias in my garden and it felt good and now I know why!

    Kate, I really love how you took it deeper and applied it to your life, and what your mom said really was powerfull about how the consciousness of the plant either bloomed or shut down. Well I want to bloom!!!

    I have been going through very difficult times lately, not following my passion and at the same time having lots of family stress. Just two weeks ago I knew I had to make a choice to behead my limiting beliefs of self doubt and that I am worthy and also live it by nurturing myself with people that lift me instead of drain me.

    Thank you,

    Have a wonderful day!


  • I’m letting go of the hesitation to use my voice. I step into and experience the fullness of my whole self.

  • Oh my goodness, this is so appropriate for my life right now. I have been systematically weeding out some festering problems that I’ve been putting off dealing with for ages (as in years) and it’s freeing up so much energy for new growth! Facing my fears, there have been answers I haven’t wanted to hear, and some of these confrontations have caused deep grief when long-held hopes finally died, but they’ve freed me up from clinging to the past and let me move on. I’m letting go of old stories and beliefs around money and multiple other things and as a result my design business and Etsy Theme Shop are flourishing. Thank you for this Kate, it really spoke to me today! And your book and Money Love Course have also played a huge part in all this exciting development!

  • Heather

    Such a timely post!
    I just took stock of my life and gave my notice at my work. It was draining exhausting and soul sucking the life out of me. The petunia reference is very apt.
    Now to embrace my creative side and start a business following my heart.

  • Catherine

    Wow…what a magical message this morning. How true and revealing of life! I pray my life keeps on blossoming and never think its time to seed…

  • Kitty Snyder

    Wonderful! Both literally and figuratively!

  • love this. and you. and how your words always land in the most tender part of my heart and that i will actually go deadheading today. and since i’ve always loved the grateful dead, the term deadhead has a double meaning, which just makes the whole thing even better. like how you make everything better. blessings to you and your flowers. also! plants love when you sing to them. xo

  • I’m a gardener and I love this analogy. What a great perspective.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  • danielle

    This is just so timely for me as well! Just this morning i was struggling to physically let go of something that i had long since let go of emotionally…. But, I was feeling guilt for wanting to get rid of it. And, i was feeling like a failure for not wanting it. Ha! I read your post and i immediately realized that holding on to something i no longer was caring for wasn’t helping me or it! I said a prayer and sent it on it’s way to find a new loving home!
    Kate, I admire your work and your writings… and i LOVE deadheading flowers!!!

  • Bee

    I LOVE cleaning out my closets, letting go of relationships/jobs that no longer work for me etc. From now on, I’m calling it ‘deadheading my petunias’!

    ‘Don’t mind me, I’m just off to deadhead my petunias!’


  • I love how you tied the gardening analogy with letting go of what is not working. Such a great angle to remind myself and others. Thank you!

  • I found this post so therapeutic Kate, thank you! It made me feel OK to let go of some old things, to embrace the new. A beautiful analogy!

  • Hi Kate,

    this is my first time on your blog and I LOVE this blog post! It is sooo true. I never saw it that way.

    I love plants and flowers and gardening and I tend to my “babies” regularly. (and I too think about them before I go on a trip and what precautions have to be taken – so funny how times change ;-))

    It is not falure, it is nature – Love it!

    I feel it is time to pic some “petunias” in my life.

    Thanks a lot!


  • Petunias need as much sunlight as possible. If your plants aren’t producing blooms, you might need to replant them in a sunnier area of the garden.

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