Technique 2: Deadheading individual flowers or stems
Some plants require a more specific approach.
One by one
Perennials, such as irises and daylilies, generally have clusters of flowers at the top of the stems. Using fine-pointed scissors or simply your finger and thumb, snip or pinch out individual blooms as they fade, including the swelling at the base of the flower where seeds would form.
Be careful not to disturb new buds below. Once the last buds have opened, cut the stem off at the base. Regularly nip off the dead flowers of annuals, such as marigolds, verbena and pansies, to maintain their good looks.
Piece by piece
Plants with tall spikes of blooms, such as tall garden phlox, foxgloves, delphiniums, monarda and Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum), produce secondary flowering shoots lower on the stem. Cut off the main cluster once it’s bloomed, down to a secondary shoot. Once all the side shoots are done, take out the stem at the base. Cut back the finished stems of plants such as peonies, dahlias and lupins to a leaf node so the cut is less visible.
Stem by stem
For plants such as bleeding hearts, hostas, heucheras, liatris, bergenias, many euphorbias and red hot pokers, snip off the spent flowering stems right at the base of the plant.