Disbudding Dahlias

Learn the simple process of disbudding dahlias for larger and better flowers with longer stems throughout the blooming season.

Disbudding dahlias is an essential step in growing when you want to allow the main bloom to reach its maximum size.

Large Roque Starburst Dahlia

Disbudding a Dahlia

Dahlias are among the most spectacular flowers to grow in a cut flower garden. With hundreds of varieties available, from tiny pom-pom sizes to large dinner plate varieties, there are many types of dahlias for everyone!

Dahlia blooms can range in sizes up to 14 inches in diameter; in exchange for the beautiful blooms, they require some care.

Dahlias need a great start at planting time. Whether dahlia tubers are started in pots or planted in the ground, they need to be staked appropriately and pinched out to produce more blooms.

Finally, disbudding dahlias will allow for larger blooms resulting in maximum size potential in the various dahlia varieties.

Dahlia Plant Stem Disbudded

What Is disbudding Dahlias?

Disbudding dahlias is removing some of the flower growth buds on each flower stem. If dahlias are not disbudded, they will not bloom to their maximum potential, with long stems perfect for arranging in bouquets.

Disbudding allows the central bloom to produce larger flowers. If a dahlia plant is not disbudded, the central bud and two side buds will develop. All three buds will bloom, but the stems will be short, and the flower heads will be smaller.

Should I Disbud Dahlias

Leaving all the buds on the dahlia plant will result in more blooms, but the flowers will be smaller. Nevertheless, disbudding dahlias will result in fewer blooms but larger, more spectacular blooms.

So, if you want lots of dahlia flowers and don’t care about the stem length or the size of the blooms, let the side buds develop.

Disbudding dahlias is a personal choice, but for the dahlia variety to reach its full potential in size, disbudding is a critical step in that process.

When to Disbud Dahlias

Disbudding dahlias is best done in the early morning or evening cool hours. Wait until the central flowering bud is big enough that you can snap off the two pea size side buds without damaging the central bud.

How to Disbud Dahlias

Before dahlias bloom, they make one bud at the end of the branch with two smaller side buds. Sometimes, the dahlia plant will make three side buds.

Disbudding removes the smaller side buds and directs all the plant’s energy to the central bud. This allows the main bloom to reach its maximum size.

This is the step-by-step process on how to disbud dahlias.

Disbudding a Dahlia Plant

Step 1: Locate the Main Bud

Each branch of the dahlia plant will form the central bud. Then, off to the side is usually two or three smaller buds. Locate the flower buds of the tip cluster; the central bud is the one you want to leave on the dahlia plant.

Removing the Side Bud on a Dahlia

Step 2: Remove the Side Buds

The smaller buds on either side of the central bud are the ones you want to remove. Using a pair of garden snips or your thumb and finger, gently remove the side buds.

Removed the Dahlia Side Bud

Step 3: Remove Lateral Growth Buds

For longer stems on a dahlia bloom, disbudding also includes removing some lateral growth buds that may be appearing.

The next lower leaf pair may have two buds forming; if so, remove the outer buds saving only one flowering bud per stem.

Going further down the stem, remove one or two pairs of the laterals, depending on how long you want the flowering stem to be.

Step 4: Allow Dahlia to Reach Full Potential

Once you disbud a dahlia, the main flower will blossom to its fullest potential. The dahlia stem can then be cut, and the big blooms are used in fresh floral bouquets.

Roque Starburst Dahlia in Bouquet

While you may be hesitant to remove the side buds off your beautiful plants, disbudding is worth it if you want gorgeous large blooms from your dahlias.

More Dahlia Growing tips

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