Deadheading keeps flowers looking good and tidy and gives you the perfect way to relax and get up close to your flowers. I’m always pleased to have secateurs in one hand and a pint of home brew in the other.

By removing a plant’s dead or dying flowers before it sets seed, you force it to start again. It must grow fresh leaves and flowers to produce its precious seeds. Thwarting the plant often gives you more flowers and possibly a second and flush of foliage.

Deadheading only works well with some flowers as not all plants will flower again, however assiduously you deadhead them. And you could be sacrificing autumn colour, attractive seedheads or food and shelter for wildlife for an overly neat and tidy patch. So you must decide what plants are worth doing.

As a general rule, herbaceous perennials that flower early in the summer are more likely to flower again, if properly deadheaded or cut back. One of my favourite Dianthus, ‘Stargazer’ does this beautifully when the old stalks are removed.

And Heleniums that flower early in the summer, in June and July, like the shorter H. ‘Sahin’s Early Flowered’ and H. ‘Moerheim Beauty’ may well flower again in September if you regularly remove the faded flowers. On the other hand, tall heleniums that flower in August should be left untrimmed as they won’t have time to flower again, so enjoy their decorative seedheads instead.

Deadheading entails removing the whole flowering stalk, back to the nearest pair of leaves. Though quick and easy with a single flower growing on one flower stalk, it’s a 2 stage process when several separate flowers develop on single stalk. Sweet peas and many roses do this. Start by nipping out individual dying flowers and delay removing the whole flower stalk until all the flowers have faded.

Some plants respond well to more drastic ‘deadheading’. Geranium sanguineum, Bloody Cranesbill, G. wallichianum and G. psilostemon cultivars are best cut right back to 5cm above the ground. You’ll get a second flush of leaves and a second flowering.

Deadheading may not always be a good idea. Stay the secateurs if you want a fine display of hips or seedheads in autumn.

Many species roses only flower once whatever you do, and hyperactive snipping denies you the bonus of huge hairy hips on R. rugosa or R. moyesii’s flask shaped hips. And unless bad weather forces you to remove the decaying petals of a peony’s once blowsy blooms, leave well alone. Its claw shaped seedheads make a fine autumn show.

Collecting seed is also fun, even if you can’t always be sure of the next generation’s flower colours. But some species, like Aquilegia, may self-seed all too liberally in a border, so need cutting out before the seed is ripe.

In other cases, plant breeders have sometimes come to the rescue and have developed varieties that ‘self clean’. This is where spent flowers wither and drop off neatly, so save you the trouble of removing them. Although you should snip out dying flowers from most petunias, ‘Supertunia’ does the job for you, as do lobelias and others intended for hanging baskets.

Even if you don’t get more flowering, some species, like Geranium pratense and G. sylvaticum and their cultivars give a fresh flush of leaves.

In fact, Geranium phaeum varieties are often grown as much for leaves as for flowers. Although I’m greatly taken by G. phaeum ‘Samobor’s dusky crimson flowers, the deep brownish-purple markings on the foliage is some bonus.

With other plants, such as Geranium macrorrhizum cultivars. autumn foliage colour develops first on the older leaves. So you’re missing out if you remove them.

Plant of the week

Gooseberry ‘Hino Red’. Red, translucent gooseberries that are delicious raw when fully ripe. The bushes are particularly hardy and have good mildew resistance.