Taking care of dahlias: the trick with deadheading

Taking care of dahlias: purple cactus dahlia close up

To my mind, one of the greatest strengths of dahlias, is that they can go on flowering from mid-summer right until the first frosts.

Depending on where you live, that could mean that you can have dahlias in bloom for three, four or even five months.

However, the most important word in that first sentence was can.

Once you know how to grow dahlias, they can flower for extended periods but only if you, the gardener, help them do so.

Taking care of dahlias involves the usual necessities of feeding, watering and mulching. But to get prolonged flowing, you need to dead head.

And it can be a little bit harder to dead head dahlias than it is for most flowers, unless you are aware of one important fact – how to identify the spent flower head.

(I have to say, I can never think of dead heading, without thinking of the Grateful Dead. But maybe that’s just me.)

The two step tip for dead heading dahlias

In case you don’t know, dead heading is simply a matter of removing spent flower heads.

This prompts the plant to produce more flowers, because removing the spent flowers deprives the plant of the potential seeds that evolution is driving it to produce.

Step 1 – Identify the spent flower

This is what makes dead heading dahlias a little bit tricky.

The problem is that once all the petals have fallen from a spent dahlia, the hard green part at the base of the flower (the calyx) closes over and what is left looks very much like like a bud.

So unless you know how to tell the difference between the buds and the remains of the spent flowers, you can end up removing the very buds that you are trying to induce into flower.

Fortunately, it is pretty easy to tell which is which when you know how. So here’s the trick:

The buds are rounded and the dead heads are cone shaped.

Take a look at the picture below.

This is a bud.

It is rounded, a kind of flattened sphere of compressed petals, with the calyx (the hard green outer ring of sepals) fanned out below the bud.

Taking care of dahlias: dahlia bud

Rounded dahlia bud - do not remove

In contrast, what you see below is the spent flower.

Notice how the overall shape is pointed rather than flattened, a cone instead of a sphere. In addition the sepals of the calyx have folded up to enclose and protect the reproductive parts of the plant.

These are what you need to remove.

Taking care of dahlias: dead head

Cone shaped spent dahlia flower: remove these

Step 2 – Cut right back

This is the easy part.

When you remove the dahlia’s dead head, don’t just cut it off below the flower. If you do, you’ll leave a flowerless stem that will just look ugly.

Instead, cut back, with sharp secateurs, to just above the point where the flower stem joins a main stem.

As you do so, you’ll probably notice a couple of tiny buds nestling there. With the removal of the spent flowers, those will sparked into life and they will bloom in a week or two.

If you are attentive in taking care of your dahlias and keep up your dead heading regime all summer, you’ll have blooms until the plant is knocked over by the first frost.

What you might need

If you’re just deadheading your dahlias, you can just as easily use kitchen scissors. But if you’re anything like me, then you’ll be scanning the garden for anything that needs a prune or a bit of cutting back while you’re there.

I pretty much never step into the garden without my classic Felco Classic number 2 secateurs. These are the best secateurs or pruners I’ve ever found – and, believe me, I’ve tried plenty.

Buy dahlias

For a great selection of dahlias, check out what is on offer in my Gardener’s Store.

Just to be clear, the product links in the store are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you buy.

More on taking care of dahlias

Read more on how to grow dahlias, with full cultivation notes here.


  1. Sheila Fox says:

    Thanks. Glad to get that info on dead heading dahlias. Looking forward to more blooms.

  2. Do they come up every year? Can’t remember the term names.

  3. Oh! Are they annuals or perrenials?

  4. Lesley Miller says:

    Question; do Dahlia’s grow & bloom best in clay pots? Plastic? I have gophers and don’t trust them in the ground,….
    Thanks for getting back to me /us ๐Ÿ™‚

    Santa Cruz, CA

    • Hi Lesley
      On the whole they do better in the ground and are easier to look after (not so much watering). But there’s no reason why they can’t grown in pots. I’ve always grown dahlias in the ground but I’m actually growing a dahlia in a pot for the first time at the moment, so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

      You can use clay or plastic pots, although I’d usually choose a clay pot because sometimes plastic pots can get really hot and damage the roots of the plants. This is less of an issue if it’s a large plastic pot.

      When growing dahlias in pots, you need to make sure they don’t dry out and keep them well fed – see this post on growing dahlias.

      Hope this helps.

  5. Chuck Lasher says:

    I have had great luck storing my dahlias in Pro-Mix. It is light, fluffy and dry. After lifting, cleaning and drying, I divide each clump, which is the hard part, then put each division in a ziploc bag , covered with Pro-Mix then zipped shut. These are then placed in the coolest corner of the basement. Nearly 100% success every year.

    • Sounds like you’ve got it very well under control Chuck.

      I agree dividing dahlia tubers is a bit hard. I always end up with a few loose ones with mo growing point. That’s why I always wait till there’s a sizable clump.

      Thanks for your tip.

    • Your dahlias are abutoslely amazing. Are they perennials where you live? We have to lift the bulbs in the fall, which is why I’ve never tried to grow any.

  6. How do you prepare the plants for winter? They are brown and look dead. Do you cut the plant off at the ground?


  7. I liver in central Florida, will the blooms continue all year or will plant die back in the cooler weather?

    • Hi Lynn
      I think they’ll still go through the perennial plant cycle of growth and die back, but you’ll probably get a longer flower season. You could try some heat tolerant varieties, e.g. Bloodstone,Thomas Edison, Juanita, Prince Noir, Jersey’s Beauty, Bishop of Llandaff, Deuil du Roi Albert, Surprise, Lavengro, Princess de Suede or Winsome. Also make sure they are well watered but that the soil is free draining. They won’t cope with being waterlogged.

  8. if I leave the tubers in the ground over winter do I need to cut them to ground level first

    • Hi Harry
      Yes, once they’ve been hit by the first frosts or bad autumn weather, you should cut them down to ground level and then apply a good layer of mulch. They should be fine if your temperatures don’t get much below -5 on a regular basis, although the tubers could rot if you get lots of rain and the soil is sodden for extended periods.

  9. Kristin says:

    Thank you so much for this info! I wasn’t sure how to deadhead my dahlias – at the base of the flower or the stem, but you certainly cleared that up for me! I am in NYC and have mine in pots and window boxes, so it is easy for me to see the spent blooms. And no, you’re not the only one that thinks of the #GratefulDead when using the term “deadheading!” You have a new fan in me! LOL!

    • Hi Kristin Thanks for your comment. I’m glad the info has helped you. I’d love to see your display of Dahlias. I think I’ll have to try to work out a way for readers to upload pics of their gardens and plants.

      • I’ve now included a page where readers can upload their own garden and plant pics, tips and gardening stories. Click here and follow the instructions.

  10. Gabriela says:

    Hi guys,
    I’m growing dahlias in a large plastic pot for the first time. Until two weeks ago, i had beautiful red flowers with bright yellow centers, and multiple flourishing buds. However, they suddenly started to die out and the new ones are now small pink-yellow flowers and few buds. The soil hasn’t gotten too dry (I used micracle grow potting mix). The weather in the north east has been ok – some night are still chilly but not below freezing, certain days humid but not too bad. I’ve frequently moved them inside and outisde the house to protect them from heavy rain.
    What could be potential causes? Is there a recommended water regiment i should be following? What about light exposure? What else could I do that might help me get them back to big red beautiful dahlias? Will they come back?
    Thanks a bunch!

    • Hi Gabriela. Sounds like a tricky problem. One cause could be that the soil is too wet. Dahlias can’t stand being waterlogged, so I’d suggest you make sure that there is good drainage through your pot. Plastic pots can hold water much more than clay pots, so I’d check that the soil is not waterlogged around the roots of the plant, even if the surface seems dry.

      Another thing that dahlias need is a good supply of sunlight, so I’d try to keep them outside, in full sun , as much as possible.

      If they’re in miracle-gro potting mix, it doesn’t sound like they need feeding. Sometimes over-feeding will kill plants, so unless they’ve been in the mix for a long time, so that all the nutrients in the mix have been depleted , I’d hold off on the feed.

      Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

    • Colleen Merreot says:

      Just saw your post about your dahlias looking sad and noticed that you used Miracle Grow,. I discovered a website that grows dahlias in the northwest area, I believe Oregon and on their site they really explain everything you need to know about growing dahlias. I believe that Miracle Grow has too much nitrogen. There are certain fertilizers for dahlias that you need to use. Check out their site it is very informative. Hope you see this since your post was back in 2014.

      Good Luck

    • I just got my first dahlia and it is a deep blood red type but as they age they begin to turn a lovely pink . They are the same flower ,it just changes color ! Some of them are bi- colored now . I wonder if it’s the type of dahlia ?

  11. Sheila Marler says:

    Do you let the blossoms completely die , before deadheading. Or do you cut them off, when they start to turn brown. Thanks. This is my first year , I am growing them in containers. Thank you. For all of the information.

    • Hi Sheila
      It’s up to you really. I do it when I notice a bloom is fading. I think that technically, as soon as the spent flower is removed, then the immature blooms get a signal in the form of a hormone to begin the flowering process. But, if you’ve got a plant with plenty of blooms, then some are likely to get to the cone-shaped, spent flower stage before you catch them. The best advice is just to make sure you deadhead on a regular basis so that you’ve always got some new blooms coming through.

  12. I am growing dalias in South Carolina for the 1st time. They are in plastic pots in almost full sun. However, the petals are turning brown before the bloom has fully opened. What do you think the problem is?

    • Hi Gayle
      Like all things in gardening, Dahlias like it just right. They need sun and they need to not be waterlogged, as I’ve said above. But – if the sun is very intense, especially at midday, the petals and buds can burn. Also, when the weather is warm, make sure they get enough water – not so that the roots are drowning for any prolonged period, but enough to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out for any length of time. This can be a problem with any plants in pots. Also check out your feeding regime. I’ve read, though I haven’t verified this yet, that they should not have fertilisers high in phosphorous. So make sure the middle number in the NPK number on the fertiliser packet is not too high.

      Also are there any problems with the leaves? Are they yellowing for example? Is there yellowing around the veins? These kids of symptoms can signifiy nutrient deficiencies or imbalances.

  13. Shirley says:

    This is my first year growing Dahlias, and I am having a problem with something eating the flowers, little bits at a time!!!!! What can I spray on these gorgeous flowers to protect them??? Also, I find that earwigs like to tuck in the flowers as soon as they start to fade…….that’s easy enough to handle, as I deadhead very quickly, but I would like to ask…”Do Dahlias attract earwigs or do I just have an overabundance of earwigs, and not enough good hidey spots for them?????

    • Hi Shirley
      Earwigs are known to be attracted to dahlias, so there is a good chance it’s the earwigs that are nibbling your flowers. I’m reluctant to recommend spraying because then you’ll also kill the good bugs like ladybirds (ladybugs) and hoverfly larvae that will protect your plants from other pests like aphids.

      One old gardeners’ trick to deal with earwigs involves placing a small upturned flowerpot stuffed with straw or tissue paper on stakes in amongst your plants. This provides the kind of daytime hiding place that earwigs like. You can empty out the pot each afternoon and destroy the earwigs that collect there, or just empty the contents into a plastic bag, tie up the end and put it in your bin. This should help keep the earwig population under control.

      It’s hard to recommend a product if you do want to use an insecticide as what is available will depend on where you live. For example, in Europe now very many insecticides have been banned. In any case, you might find it is best to use a granular product rather than a spray as this can be more targeted.

      Hope this helps.

  14. Shirley says:

    This is not another question…….I just forgot to click the “Sign up to our newsletter” box!!!!!

  15. Barbara o'keeffe says:

    how often should i water and feed my dahiias? this is my fist time gardening and im loving it…

    • Hi Barbara
      I’m glad you’re loving your gardening experience. There are some dahlia growing tips here. Keep the soil reasonably moist, but not waterlogged. Feed them with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser in early summer and a potassium-rich fertiliser once they are flowering. Once a month should probably be enough.

  16. i have started to dig up my plants and have noticed after a week they seem to be getting soft. I have them laying on paper bag in basement. I have planted these for 3 or 4 years and did not realize they were able to be saved. I would just notice that they were soft and mushy and I would throw them away. Someone told me peri all and I thought they were annuals. I am so excited because I have picked well over 300 flowers this year off of my dahlias. I sure hope I can save them from year to year. Thank you for your help…I really enjoy the tips on your site.

    • Hi Sandy
      Glad you’re enjoying the site.

      Make sure you lay the tubers upside down to dry out. They have hollow stems and water may well be lying in the bottom of the the stems that you cut back.
      This water needs to be drained out or it can make the tubers rot.

  17. My dahlias do not have seeds in them, when I dead head them. I wonder why, can anyone tell me. I’ve had them for years, and they are lovely’
    Adele Anderson

  18. Johanna says:

    Is it normal for my dahlias to brown almost every day?! I seem to find myself deadheading spent flowers everyday! I’m new at everything flowers so help please!

    • Hi Johanna
      Individual blooms should last a few days. But if you keep deadheading, you’ll get more blooms, so ultimately there’s more deadheading too.

  19. I recently bought some plants at a garage sale. one of which she said was Dahlias. at the time, nothing was growing, BTW ~ i live in So. California ~ it’s in one of those plastic long (abt. 2ft long and 6in deep) containers. It’s growing, but the earwigs are eating the leaves. Thanks to your hints above, I will set up some “earwig traps”, So I wanted to put these in my garden. Do my dahlias like morning or afternoon sun? And do you have any tips on the transplanting? I was just going to cut away the planter and set the whole thing in a large enough hole…
    thanks, Pat

    • If you’ve got enough room and can dig a big enough hole, that sounds like a great way pf transplanting, Pat. They’ll generally prefer morning sun, as afternoon sun can be especially fierce. But they originate in Mexico, so you climate should be fine.

  20. Brian Robinson says:

    Why do the petals of my dahlias look dead? Too much water? Thanks

    • Hi Brian
      It’s hard to say. It could be too much water, or too little, or too much fertiliser or too little, or scorching from hot sun. Sorry that’s not much help but there are so many variables in gardening. The best recovery regime would be to cut back all the dead or dying stems. Make sure the plant is reasonable well watered, then mulch with an organic compost.
      More info here

  21. Hello Martin, i want to say thank you for all your insight, knowledge, and time you give to answering peoples ? keep up the great work.

  22. I dreaded headed my plants about 6 inches under the bloom and now the stem is brown where I cut (but green everywhere else). I also was using standard kitchen scissors (new gardener here, just ordered shears!) I tried cutting back a few more inches the first time I noticed they were brown, and it just happened again. What can I do to get them to start growing again?

    • Hi Joan
      You need to cut back to just above a leaf bud, below the flower. The part of the stem you cut back inevitably goes brown, so if you cut it back to the nearest bud, you minimise the stem die back

  23. Denise J says:

    Do you trim back the leaves and leave stems on dahlias? I’m in northern MN, have them in pots, and the greenery is growing like crazy. Actually over taking other plants in pots with em. If I can trim them back, how do I know which to trim if flowers heads haven’t started yet? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Denise
      Look out for tiny buds between the leaf axils. Otherwise, don’t worry too much. If they’re flourishing, they’ll produce new flowers – just a bit later than they would have if you hadn’t come them back.

    • Look out for tiny buds in the leaf axils (where they join the stems). Otherwise, don’t worry too much, if the plants are flourishing they’ll flower, just a bit later than they would have done if you hadn’t cut them back

  24. I’m not a new gardener, just new to container gardening! I have a gorgeous purple dahlia in a metal pot (might change to a ceramic pot soon), and with the heat and sun here on the southern coast of Spain, I’ve noticed a few dried, browning leaves. Too much water? Too much sun? The pot isn’t huge, but could it be warming the soil too much? It was root bound when I bought it, and this metal bucket was the only thing big enough I had to use. Plus it looks pretty cool in this bucket!
    Any suggestions? Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Vicki
      Yes, those metal pots do look cool but they do cause the soil to overheat and they’re not usually that good at draining. I’d definitely try a different container.

  25. Kevin Faulkner says:

    Thx….my Dahlias look fabulous! I’m may enter them next year at the fair. My neighbors and friends can’t believe and neither can I. Lol

  26. Jane Griffiths says:

    In my garden, I have 5 clumps of dahlias. Suddenly, all 5 have started to die. Two started first and then the rest followed suit. I am so disappointed. We have had really hot weather and are on strict watering which is all by hand either by hose or watering can. I feel like I have been pretty good about watering, but it could be a factor. Nothing else has died. I could probably dig up one plant, but I would not have any idea of what I would be looking for. Reading the above suggestions, I could cut the plants. I would really appreciate any help you can give me thank you.

    • Hi Jane
      It probably would be a good idea to dig up, or carefully down and around, the tubers in one clump to see what’s going on. It sounds like the tubers may have rotted, but that seems unlikely if you are on water restrictions – unless there is poor drainage around them. Otherwise, it could be some bug at the roots – Cutworm or such like. Also check for earwigs in the leaves and flowers.

      If they’re not totally dead, and there are no obvious signs of tuber damage when you dig, all I can suggest is cut them back, feed, water and mulch and hope for the best.

  27. Martin, this is my first year growing dahlias. When they first started to bloom, they were a very vivid red color. Now they are starting to fade on the sides and turn an orangish color. Is there something I can do to make the color of the bloom look more vivid again?

    • Hi Paige
      You could try a fertilizer which is higher in phosporous than other nutrients. Phosphorous promotes flower growth, but I’m not sure whether it will improve the colour of your dahlias. It could just be a characteristic of the variety you’re growing.

  28. hi
    I am first time, first season growing a variety of dinner plate dahlias.
    I just did a round of dead heading in my garden.
    I live in Los Angeles, CA for reference, and my plants are starting to go a bit brown and sad looking.
    We have had a good couple weeks of heat and dry weather.
    I am trying to bump up my watering.
    Should i add some Sluggo to my plants? I can’t tell if they are sick or just need more water.
    thank you!

    • Sounds like it could be the heat Sandra. Keep up regular watering. Mulch with an organic mulch. Maybe use a seaweed foliar feed.

  29. So I’m growing dahlias in a big clay pot in southern California. They are in full sun and well fed and watered. They bloomed beautifully for about a month. Then it kind of just stopped. I’ve cleared all the dead leaves around the stem to let it breath and have removed dead head close to the base as you mentioned. The remaining stems are roughly 2 ft tall and falling over now and not producing any more buds. Should I cut the plant down?

    • Sounds like if there are no bus, you may need to cut right back Matthew. But have a good look in the leaf axils. Sometimes there are some tiny buds hiding there. If there’s any life left in them, you can stake the stems.

  30. Hi there ! It’s my first year planing dahlias in pots in zone 6b. I’m nervous my dahlia one of it is browning and the others are blooming? The leaves and stems are browning and I’m finding myself cutting the brown leaves and stems off every month.is that normal? Thank u!

  31. Apologies for not keeping up with comments. Been working on another project: The Self Determined Life. Nothing to do with gardening, but you might like it, so take a look and sign up for the newsletter.


  32. Hi Martin,
    We live in Toronto. This is our first attempt at growing dahlias and had amazing results this summer. however in a rush to clean up the yard for winter I pulled out some tubers to store them away for winter. It looks like I did that a bit too early. Will my tubers not have eyes for next year? My question to you is, do I have to wait till the first frost to pull out the tubers for storage?

  33. Hi I wonder if anyone could tell me how to keep my tubers over winter I have just lifted them and very wet and soiled up I live in the midlands uk
    And it is very wet here?

  34. Hey my dhalias are growing pretty fine in the bed. But the ones in the pot have got leaves turning black and the leaves are dry to touch. We have had quite windy nights past week. Please help

  35. Still waiting for some help regarding my dhalias

    • Hi Erum
      It could be the wind, especially if it was hot and dry. Dahlias have quite soft leaves and they’re prone to wind burn. Prune off the damaged leaves and give them a good water and mulch. Feed them too if it’s been a while since you did.

  36. Hi ya I’m moving house and its only March and would like to take my Dahlias with me, they are planted in the garden and blooming hard. Can I cut them back to just above the bulbs and dig them up, then leave them to dry out for replanting next season ??

    • Hi Tracy
      I see you’re in New Zealand. Yes that would probably work. Leave it as late as possible. The problem is they may be a bit weaker next year because they won’t have had a full growing season for the energy from photosynthesis etc to be stored in the tubers. So you’ll need to give them a good start with feeding, mulching, compost next year.

      The alternative is that you could dig them up and let them finish the season in pots.

  37. Oh ok I didn’t think to do that….
    Very helpful thank you for your time. :^)

  38. LISA Miller says:

    Thank you!!! I “rescued” eighteen 1.25 qt Starsisters this morning for $1 each. Just after I started giving them TLC and deadheading them, I started questioning if I butchering the beauties instead! So glad to find your site and the helpful distinction between spent and unspent, and also to find I’m not the only one who couldn’t tell the difference. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank you!
    Lisa in 7b

  39. I bought some beautiful Dahlias for the first time at Costco. I planted them, forgot the snail bait, and when I checked on them the next day, something had made quite a feast of them. I have since put down some Deadline to deter the pest, but they are not snapping out of it. Been a few weeks. They look a little droopy and, well, very eaten. How do I perk them back up? I’m in Northern California, and it’s nice, but not hot yet. I’m not sure why they are looking like they don’t like their little sunny spot. Any suggestions?

  40. Adrienne says:

    i have saved my dahlia tubers for several years, but this year when I started them in the house, something has gone wrong with. the stems of the leaves. They are curved downward and the leaves are curling in from the sides. the leave is also curved down. i have gone out and bought some hybrid dahlias. They are beautiful, but I am wondering if these can be saved and grown again the next year. I went to every garden centre looking for tubers, and everyone was sold out of 18 in to 24 in. I grow these in pots so I don’t want really tall ones. All that was left was these potted hybrids.

    • Hi Adrienne. You can try them but they may not be strong enough to regrow next year. Check how big the tubers are at the end of the season. if they look pretty solid, it might work

  41. Adrienne says:

    I want to know if hybrid dahlias can be taken in and kept until the next summer. Do they have a tuber the same as regular dahlias

  42. Hi Martin,
    It’s nice to know I’m not crazy for thinking plastic pots were killing my plants and then transplanting them all. So I’m having trouble with a dahlia that I planted in a pot. It’s my first time with them and I completely misjudged how large they grew. I need to transplant it into a much larger pot I have, but I’m worried about the whole plant dying for the year.

    • If it has outgrown the current plot then it won’t thrive anyway Harley. Just do it carefully and it should work.

  43. Marilyn Stephens says:

    Just had a hail storm, what to do? My guess is to cut back the stems like dead heading?

  44. Nathalie says:

    First off thank you for all the information!!

    I absolutely love dahlias, I discovered them last year at a farmer’s market so I’m still new.

    I dahlias used to have perfect blooms but not buds are only partially opening and when they do the flower is deformed (pedals are asymmetrical, some short others normal). In addition to that I now have white lines on my leaves (probably leaf miners). Are the two problems from the same pest? I’m not sure what I’m dealing with. The deformation isn’t genetic since originally the flowers.

    Any idea what’s causing this?

    Thank you,

    • Hi Nathalie. Sounds like leaf miners on the leaves. Could be earwigs munching into the buds before they’re fully formed. Have a good close look at the plant to see if you can see any critters.

  45. Michelle says:

    Hi there,
    One of my plants recently got attacked by aphids! I read somewhere to spray them with soapy water and then spray with the hose to remove them the next day, but it looks like I was too late. If I cut stems right down, is there any chance they will come back?

    • Hi Michelle, Yes, if you cut them down they should come back. Dahlias flower late anyway, so depending on where you live and how early the first frost is you could still get flowers this season. Maybe you just need to cut back the damaged sections, not right down to the ground.

  46. Jo Petrovic says:

    I planted my dahlias in mid-May and to date have not seen any growth. I dug one up and found it to be still firm and just beginning to create roots. What am I doing wrong?

    • If it’s getting roots, you probably just need to be patient Jo. As long as they are well fed and watered, just give them some more time.

  47. I z

    I am planting dahlias in plastic pots for the first time. Can I leave the plants in pots and bring inside during the cold Canadian winter? Can I then divide and repot plants in spring. The plants have buds and blooms now.

  48. Last year my dahlias were a brilliant pink. this year the same plants are very pale in color. Do I need to add something to the soil? (denver, colorado)

    • Hi Rob
      Sometimes this happens when the plant is stressed. Check whether they’re getting enough water, feed with a ferilizer with a higher phosphorous level (as this promotes flower health) and mulch well

  49. Dick Bazett says:

    All divisions of one of my decorative class dahlias has reverted to semi-double this year. Will this condition persist again next year?

  50. Ed Doyle says:

    I have been growing dahlias for many years and started out with several different colors but every year I seem to get more and more maroon with white tips and this year that is all I have except for my small yellows ones that stay the same. What could be making these change colors?

    • Hi Ed, That’s a mystery. Sometimes perennial plants just degenerate over time, even though they are supposedly ‘perennial’. A bit like us, they’re not always so sparkling looking in their old age as they were when they’re were younger.

      If your plants are self-seeding then then they would account for the tendency to homogenise.

  51. Sabrina O'Reilly says:

    Hi Guys i have orange Asiatic Lilies i was wondering is it ok to cut back all foliage as there is new sprouts starting to form on the bottom or do i leave it alone, it had flowered through June and i cut flowers but left all foliage. What should i do now?

    • Hi Sabrina
      Lillies are bulbous plants. The leaves generate energy by photosynthesis that is stored in the bulbs. After flowering, the plant needs to replenish its stores of energy, so it’s best to leave the foliage until it looks really tatty. That way the plant can generate enough energy to store for flowering next year.

  52. I haven’t ever planted a Dahlia, I got one and planted in a plastic pot. The plant itself has grown very large. I haven’t had one flower on it since I bought it a few months ago. There are TONS of buds everywhere. The leaves are dry/hard to the touch and wilty looking. I’ve tried full sun, part sun, everything….what am I doing wrong? ;-( I am thinking about putting it in the ground. But where? in a shady area? sunny?

    • Hi Emily, it sounds like it’s coming into flower. Dahlias usually flower mid to late summer. Check the roots to see if they’re dry. Wilting can be over-watering or under-watering, so you need to see which might be the problem. It’s good to plant it in the ground if you can. Usually full sun is best, or maybe an area with afternoon shade if the sun can be very hot where you.

  53. danielle teale says:

    When I’ve dead headed my dahlia would the seeds inside grow if I was to plant them?

  54. Hi all
    I’m a amateur gardener hoping to entry Dahlias in show on Monday, most plants have good blooms on but have not opened yet. Is there any way of speeding up process to get flowers to bloom ?


  55. I have read through all the questions and do not see an answer to my problem.
    I puchased a XXL Durango Dahlia this spring, it was in a pot about a gallon size, had about 6 lovely flowers on it.
    I transplanted it in to a pot about 2 gallon size mixed with 2/3 soiless mix and 1/3 rich brown earth.
    I fertilized with 10-52-10 @ 1/4 strength for every watering for a couple weeks to get it rooted in. It was in full sun all the time.
    It would not do anything in the pot I put it in and all the leaves wilted and then fell off, some new small leaves did grow but then they also turned pale green and fell off.
    Finally I tipped the pot over and looked at the tuber and there was not one root in sight, all the soil just fell away and there was a small tuber about 2″ wide and 2″ high. I could not believe the small size of the tuber for such a large plant. I now have it stored in the fridge in a ziploc bag and peat moss so I will try and see if I can keep it over winter.
    I have grown dahlias for years and not every had a problem with growing them until now but they were always in the ground and not in pots.
    If you have any ideas what could be wrong I sure would appreciate knowing as I would like to try this plant again and have no idea of what I did wrong.

    • Maybe you gave it a bit too much water and fertiliser. If it had a small tuber a few roots (which you were not to know). then it couldn’t have coped with much food and water. Often retailers force plants on to get them looking good for sale, when they really need to be allowed to develop more slowly so they develop a good root structure.

  56. Hi Martin, I’ve enjoyed reading your great article!
    A friend recently gave me 4 massive bunches of Dahlia tubers, not divided. I’m in Los Angeles, zone 10b so not much rain expected and lowest temp will be 41 degrees at end of Dec. Should I store the tubers or plant them in the ground now, or do half and half as a backup plan? Most of tubers look fine but some are looking a bit dried. If I plant them now, can I do it immediately after I divide or should I let the cuts dry for a day? Thank you in advance!

    • Planting them should be fine if there’s no likelihood of frost, Lucy. Leaving them a day or so after diving is a good idea.
      Sorry for the delay in replying

  57. Thanks! I have been looking for this information. I am new to Dahlias and could not figure out if my plant had buds or spent flowers. Your pictures and descriptions are GREAT!

  58. Hi Martin
    We live in Southern Ontario and lift our dahlias in the fall.

    We started them in pots indoors about mid February.

    Now they’re over 3 feet tall and we can’t set them out for another month!

    Can we pinch them back or is it too late now that they’re so big?

    Thank you

  59. Allison Rodden says:

    Hi I’ve just bought my first Dahlia xxl Aztec and have found a snail on it, which I removed. Is this bed and how do I stop more coming? As you can probably tell I’m no gardener and am only starting out with flowering plants in pots.

    • Hi Allison
      Yes, snail are not great, but they’re part of a gardener’s life. You can get snail pellets that you place around the plants to deter them. An organic option that many favour is to sprinkle eggshells around the plant. The idea is that snail can’t slide over these barriers.

      Otherwise, just keep inspecting and pick them off yourself when you find them. This may be the easiest option given that you’re growing in pots.

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