Dahlias are one of the most excellent cut flowers for the summer and autumn garden. With this one simple tip, learn how to pinch out dahlias and be rewarded with many colorful blooms all season long.
Pinching is a technique often used on dahlias to produce the best results for fuller plants with many large beautiful blooms.
If you want to double or triple the number of blooms in your garden, this is one of the growing tips you need to know!
Summer just wouldn’t be complete without growing dahlias, and they are my all-time favorite flower to grow! What begins as a brown tuber planted into the ground transforms into beautiful flowers blooming in every imaginable color shade of the rainbow.
There are many varieties of dahlias, with a wide range of flower shapes and sizes. There are tall dahlias perfect for garden beds and dwarf varieties that are more suitable for growing in containers.
Some dahlia varieties have small tight pom-pom balls, while others have blooms the size of dinner plates. No matter which variety you choose to grow, all dahlias make wonderful cut flowers – the more you cut them, the more flowers they produce.
Depending on the growing season, all dahlias will benefit from a little pinch in late spring or early summer. This is just one growing tip for dahlias that makes a big difference during bloom time.
The results of that little pinch will result in a bushy dahlia plant with showy flowers.
Pinch Out Dahlias for More blooms
Dahlias are the highlight of the cut flower garden from mid-summer through the first frost of the fall season. Starting dahlia tubers early in pots or directly planting them in the ground generally happens around mid to late May here in Missouri.
After a few short weeks of planting tubers in the ground, the first new growth of stems and leaves will begin to appear.
To ensure strong and healthy plants with lots of blooms, here is a simple process of how to pinch back dahlias.
Should Dahlia Plants be Pinched Back
To pinch or not to pinch? Dahlias will grow without pinching, so why should dahlia plants be pinched back?
Allowing the dahlia plant to grow naturally without pinching it will result in a tall, skinny plant with very few blooms at the top. Although several lateral buds may bloom, there will be fewer of them than if the plant is pinched.
Pinching dahlias will temporarily redirect the plant’s energy into producing more stems and leaves instead of flower buds.
While this process will set the plant back a week or two in blooming, the benefit is that you will get more blooms from each plant.
Why Should you Pinch Dahlias
Pinching or topping dahlias will give you a stronger plant with bushy growth. Pinching out the top of the plant also increases flower production.
Once the dahlias main stem is removed, this forces the plant to put energy into creating side shoots.
This process results in more stems and flowers. When the single sprout is removed, the dahlia plant will produce two new stems instead of one.
When Should You Pinch Out Dahlias
The best time to pinch out dahlias is when the plant is between 12-16″ tall and has three to five pairs of leaves.
Where Do You Pinch off Dahlias
Count the sets of leaves that you have. When you have at least three sets of leaves, find the top sprout on the stem between two leaves. Then gently fold the stem over and break it off.
When is it too Late to Pinch Dahlias
Once dahlias grow to a height of 24 inches or have more than seven to nine sets of leaves, it is generally too late to pinch them.
Plants should be pinched when they are small because as they grow larger, their stems become hollow. Exposing a hollow stem to rain or overhead watering can result in the dahlia tubers rotting.
How to Pinch out Dahlias for More Blooms
With brilliant colorful blooms, it is easy to see why dahlias are one of the most treasured cut flowers.
With this one simple tip on how to pinch dahlias, you will have more blooms for your home or to share with family and friends!
Step 1: Locate the Location of the Top Stem
Dahlia plants should be pinched when they are 12-16″ tall and have three to five sets of leaves. Locate the center stem between the top set of leaves.
Step 2: Remove the Center Stem
Use sharp, clean flower snips, pruners, a pair of scissors, or your thumb and finger to gently remove the center stem above the set of leaves as close as possible. Discard the center stem.
Step 3: Wait for New Growth
Since the center stem has been removed, you will notice that two tiny shoots will grow into two new large branches in a few weeks.
Step 4: Anticipate Blooms
In the photo below, you will notice that the center stem has scarred over and that two healthy stems have grown. These stems will now produce more blooms for harvesting.
If you want blooms to be their maximum size, be sure that you are disbudding dahlias!
Step 5: Cut and Harvest Dahlia Flowers
Cutting the flowers from the stems and using them in bouquets will give the same effect as pinching the dahlia once the plant begins to bloom.
Step 6: Deadhead Dahlias
If you choose not to harvest all the dahlia flowers for bouquets, they will need to be deadheaded once the flower heads fade.
To deadhead dahlias, follow the flower stem down and cut above the first pair of leaves. Deadheading dahlias ensures that the plant focuses its energy on making more flowers.
Find More Dahlia Gardening Inspiration
Learn more about growing dahlias with these posts:
About the Author
Sarah is the author behind Rocky Hedge Farm. With a passion for simple, healthy recipes, gardening, and remodeling her manufactured home, she shares her experiences and knowledge to inspire others. Go here to read her story, “Living a Life of Contentment and Joy: Simple Living at Rocky Hedge Farm.” If you want to message Sarah, visit her contact page here.