Gardening Q&A:what's the best way to look after geums?

The experts at the RHS answer your gardening questions...

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Question: I have tried geums in my garden for the first time. I love their dots of bright colour but can you tell me how to deadhead them, ie do I take off the whole stem, or just cut down to the first set of leaves?

I would like if possible to prolong the flowers right through summer, so need to know the best way to do this. Also, one of them seems to have some kind of white powder or mould on it. What has caused this and what can I do?

Answer: Geums are wonderful, cheerful additions to the garden that really work hard for much of the summer. Just deadhead individual flowers, since there are usually flowers out next to buds just below the faded flowers. So keep those lovely long stems with plenty of buds still to come. When the flowers on the entire stem have gone over, remove the stem down to the base.

The white powder is likely to be powdery mildew, a fungal disease, encouraged by stress at the roots. This could be dryness and perhaps overcrowding in the border which may be limiting air circulation. So keep geums well watered, avoiding getting the leaves wet and if the problem is severe, consider using a fungicide such as Fungus Clear Ultra.

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