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How to Trim Back Dahlias

dahlia image by Timothy Lubcke from

Dahlias are hardy perennial flowers that grow from the summer months into fall. Most home gardeners grow them for their beauty and the wide range of colors and forms that are available. These plants typically produce well and can overcrowd each other. To keep your plants producing an abundance of flowers, trim back your dahlias. Every time you cut a fresh flower, the plant begins producing more in its place.

Disbud dahlia plants when flower buds first appear. Disbudding increases bloom size and develops stems. Flower buds appear in three's; the middle bud produces the larger bloom. Smaller buds will develop on each side of the middle bud. Use a clean pair of garden shears to clip these side buds. Clip the side buds at the base of their leaves. Along the same stem, more buds will be found. These should be clipped from the plant as well.

Clip the stem of spent flowers. Use a pair of clean garden shears, and cut the stem below the first set of leaves.

Clip the stem of fresh flowers. Use a pair of clean garden shears, and cut the stem at the length you desire for fresh flowers or below the first or second set of leaves. Only cut fresh flowers when the blossoms are completely open.

Place fresh flowers into a container full of warm water immediately.

Place spent flowers and buds into a trash can for disposal.

Trim back dahlias after blooms have died to overwinter. Use a pair of garden shears to cut off all spent blooms, and then cut any remaining stems down to the ground.


Dahlias are hardy in USDA Zones 8 to10. They can be left in the ground in these zones, but in other zones will need to be removed from the ground. They can then be stored to be replanted the next year.

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