How to Deadhead Dahlias – Deadheading for More Blooms

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Dahlias used to be intimidating for me, but I decided to dive right in and give it a whirl. I am caught between leaving the pods on to later grow more from seed and learning how to deadhead dahlias to prolong blooming. Deadheading dahlias or encouraging seeds… Decisions, decisions!

I love a good Mother Nature mystery – what will the pollinators give us in future dahlia flowers if I allow the seeds to develop?!

What color combinations?! What petal shapes?! How large will the blossoms be?!

Unique Color Block and Speckle Dahlia
Check out this Unique Color Block and Speckle Dahlia I found at Produce Junction in Exton, PA!

But alas, deadheading dahlias ensures we’ll enjoy even more flowers NOW.

It’s a pretty convincing argument.

More of the gorgeous blossoms that are already blooming.

More lovely flowers to share with friends or stick in a vase.

The choice is yours. You can allow some spent blossoms to go to seed and save dahlia seeds for next year.

Deadheading dahlias involves removing the spent flower heads. Here is a dahlia deadhead.
Deadheading dahlias involves removing the spent flower heads. Here is a dahlia deadhead.

You can also learn how to deadhead dahlias so you can keep the blooming season going strong until fall frost!

(Best of all, you can do both! Just let some dahlia plants go to seed further toward the end of the year.)

Do you deadhead dahlias?

Yes, most of the time you should deadhead dahlias. The trick is discovering which flowers are buds and which are spent dahlia blossoms or deadheads.

Here is a Dahlia bud waiting to open!
Here is a Dahlia bud waiting to open! Note its small, tight and compact features.

How do you tell apart dahlia buds and deadheads?

Dahlia buds tend to be plump and more compact in shape. Spent dahlia deadheads usually are pointier or more cone-shaped with some yellowing and browning in color as they age.

When in doubt, wait a few days to see if you can get more clues – either a bud opening or more drying and color fading. Sometimes you might also see spent petals peeking out or empty openings.

Dahlia deadhead on the left and dahlia bud waiting to bloom on the right
Dahlia deadhead on the left and dahlia bud waiting to bloom on the right

How to Deadhead Dahlias

Learning how to deadhead dahlias can be just a bit trickier than some other more obvious deadheading tasks. This is because the buds and deadheads look so similar sometimes!

In fact, originally, I couldn’t even find the seed pods when saving dahlia seeds, because I thought they were all new buds!

Spend enough time in the garden and you should start to get a better feel for deadheads vs. new dahlia buds.

When you are ready, follow these steps on deadheading dahlias.

  1. Identify deadhead dahlia flowers. Look for a more elongated, conical shape, yellowing or browning, open gaps in the flower head, or drying out petals.

    Spent dahlia flower head
  2. Hold the stem of dahlias to deadhead. Using your nondominant hand, hold the stem between your finger and thumb.

  3. Snip away dahlia deadheads. Use your favorite scissors or pruning shears to cut off dead dahlia flowers. Snip right below the flower head. New growth should come from the leaf nodes below!

  4. Check deadheads for seeds just in case. Before discarding spent flowers, peel back the petals to see if any seeds have already formed. Save those!

  5. Continue deadheading until you’ve tidied up your plants. If you deadhead dahlias regularly, you should continue to enjoy showy blooms all season long!
Dahlia deadhead with dried petals showing
Dahlia deadhead with dried petals showing

Easy, Prolific Dahlias

Dahlia deadheading helps you to achieve highly productive dahlia plants! You can deadhead dahlias on a weekly basis or whenever you have a spare minute in the garden.

Even if you don’t deadhead dahlia flowers regularly, your garden will still look beautiful.

Just remember to collect those seed pods so you can start dahlias from seed in the next growing season!

By the way – I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention – dahlias are tender perennials and the tubers won’t survive the cold winters. If you live in cooler grow zones like us, be sure to lift and overwinter dahlias toward the end of the season.

Do you have any other great tips on keeping dahlias blooming far into the season or any deadheading advice? How about questions?

Hit us up in the comments and we can chat! We love hearing from you!

Happy Gardening!

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