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Pruning encourages the plant to expend its energy on producing new blooms instead of going to seed (and ending its life cycle/going into dormancy). For delicate stem plants such as pansies, nasturtium, and alyssum you can simply pinch off the dead flower at its base using your fingers.For harder stalk plants such as sunflowers or coneflowers you may use a clean pair of garden scissors. In addition to extending the flowering season of your plants, deadheading keeps your garden looking neat and well-kept. Be sure to compost the dead blooms!