The Best Method For Deadheading Dahlias

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The Best Method For Deadheading Dahlias

The Best Method For Deadheading Dahlias

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Dahlias are known for their attractive look, making them a favorite of people’s gardens and bouquets. Their buds are usually big and look almost like pom-poms, but they also come in different styles, colors, and sizes. They can bloom for up to 120 days, but when the blooming season is over, it’s time to deadhead them. 

Deadheading, or cutting the dead flowers, before they go to seed is best, especially when the main goal is to produce more flowers rather than more plants. Deadheading is a key step in gardening dahlias, as it extends the plant’s flowering period from summer until winter, if done correctly. This means your garden will look beautifully colorful even though most of the growing and harvesting season has already ended.

Whether you are a new or pro gardener, deadheading your flower plants is something you’d have to do regardless of the kind of plant you have. And if you love dahlias and want to keep your dahlia plants in peek condition, here’s the top method to do it. The best part is, it’s easy and only involves two steps!

The two-step method for better dahlias

Beautiful pink and purple dahliia

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Although there are only two steps for deadheading dahlias, they are vital — you must do them correctly to get the desired results. First, you’d have to identify the spent flowers. The dead flowers that have lost all their petals often resemble new buds, making this step both tricky and crucial at the same time. After all, no one wants to cut new buds instead of already-bloomed and finished ones. Focusing on the bud shape is the key to recognizing a spent flower from a new bud. Most new dahlia buds are round and sphere-shaped, while the dead ones lose all their petals and look more like cones.

Then, once you have pinpointed all the spent flowers, it’s time to cut them. However, knowing where to make the cut is also crucial. Get pruning or kitchen scissors and cut where the dead flower’s branch joins the main stem, rather than cutting right under the flower. Doing this will allow it to grow all over again, giving the plant a chance to focus its energy on producing a new stem and bud. Remember to deadhead dahlias every few days when during blooming season to help promote more growth.

When to not deadhead dahlias

White dahlias

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Deadheading is essential when gardening dahlias; doing it is mandatory. However, there’s also a time when it’s best not to deadhead them. For example, if you want to let your dahlia plants spread out and populate the garden or harvest seed for future planting, it is best to let the flowers go to seed and not deadhead them. In addition, allowing the plant to go to seed will be good for critters and birds to feed from. Another time when it is best not to deadhead dahlias is when it’s too late in the season. At this point, most spent flowers have already gone to seed, making it pointless to prune and cut them. Let nature continue its course and enjoy having new dahlias next season. 

If you want to make the most out of your dahlia plants and help them grow continuously, deadheading them is one of those techniques you’ll have to practice and master over time. Learning to take advantage of this tip will help you have a beautiful garden full of colorful dahlia flowers for seasons to come.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.