How To Deadhead Dahlias: The Easy Guide

Learn how to deadhead dahlias- the right way!

Deadheading dahlias is an easy but important summer chore. By pruning spent blooms, your dahlia flowers will gratefully give an abundance of beautiful NEW dahlia flowers….well into late fall.

group of deadheaded dahlias

With proper deadheading, dahlias bloom all summer and into late fall! And while deadheading dahlias will yield more blooms, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Today we are going to share clear, easy steps for deadheading dahlias. We will first show you how to identify a spent dahlia bloom (spent blooms and new buds can look unfortunately similar), and then we will demonstrate how to correctly trim off those dead flowers to ensure new growth!

These simple steps will yield abundant blooms from your dahlia flowers until first the first frost hits! Grab your clippers and let’s dive in.

group of pink and white dahlias.  Some are still blooming, one has already bloomed and needs to be deadheaded.

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Find out why your dahlia flowers aren’t blooming here.

Do Dahlias Bloom All Summer?

YES! With proper and consistent deadheading, dahlia flowers will continue to bloom all summer.

Should You Deadhead Dahlia Flowers?

The most important reason you should deadhead dahlias is because it will give you more beautiful blooms!

Removing dead flowers from dahlias is beneficial for several reasons. As you deadhead dahlias throughout the summer season, more dahlia flowers will grow and bloom. Instead of the plant putting energy into creating seeds, the energy from the plant will go into creating new flowers and sustaining the current blooms.

In addition to promoting more blooms, deadheading the plant keeps the appearance fresh and healthy.

Up close photo of pink and white dahlia flower

Identifying A New Dahlia Bud Verses A Spent Flower

In order to properly deadhead dahlias, it is essential to be able to clearly identify the spent buds. Spent dahlia buds and brand new flower buds often look very similar, and it can be easy to snip off a bloom without realizing it!

What does a dead dahlia bud look like?

Usually, the a spent or “dead” dahlia bud will be conical in shape, tapering to a more narrow point. The spent bud will sometimes appear mushy, or have a dark brown appearance in the center.

What does a new dahlia bud look like?

A new bud will be round, compact, and may have a petal or two opening starting to open.

dahlia bud that hasn't bloomed next to spent dahlia bloom that needs to be deadheaded

There are a few stages that the flower goes through once the petals begins to wilt. First the florets (or petals) begin to fall, then the spent flower becomes narrower and the bracts begin to close.

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The flower head is working towards seed dispersal, but we will remove it so that the flower’s energy goes into creating more buds. Once the petals all fall and the bud closes, it becomes harder to identify from a new bloom!

If this is your first foray into growing dahlias, you may need to spend some time examining your dahlia flower to make sure you are cutting spent flowers and not budding blooms. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! Ain’t no shame in the dahlia deadheading game. 🙂

Read about popular Cafe Au Lait dahlias here.

How To Remove Dead Flowers (Where To Cut)

To remove dead flowers from your dahlia plant, you will need a clean pair of flower clippers. Cleaning your clippers will prevent cross contamination between plants, preventing disease.

When cutting dead dahlias, do not cut right under the flower head!

Instead, you will want to trace the line of the flower stem down to the main branch, where it creates it’s own stem. (See below). Here, you will make a simple clean cut. You can see this demonstrated clearly in this photo:

pair of flower clippers snipping a dahlia bud off at base of flower.

If just the flower head is removed, the plant will not create new stems for new blooms. You will be left with a long ugly stem and no flowers.

How Often Do Dahlias Need Deadheaded?

After the initial rush of blooms, deadheading dahlias should be a regular late summer and early Autumn chore. You can check for spent blooms every week, but if you want to really keep your flowers blooming we recommended snipping spent blooms every few days.

group of deadheaded dahlia flowers

You can deadhead dahlias when they first show signs of wilting, or wait until they are further along in the process of losing their petals. Multiple stages of the flower are shown above for reference.

Pruning Dahlias: Supplies

All you need to prune dahlias is a clean pair of shears, clippers, or scissors. We enjoy this quality pair. You want to be able to make a very nice, neat cut on the plant. Ensure your cutters are sanitized by spraying with a 70% solution rubbing alcohol and wiping clean.

What Does A Spent Dahlia Bud Look Like?

Here are a few more photos of spent dahlia blooms:

A dahlia flower that has already bloomed next to a new dahlia bud
The spent dahlia bud is on the left side of the photo and is conical in shape. On the right, a compact but with a few petals open is about to bloom.
up close photo of spent dahlia flower bud with rotting flower head
This spent dahlia bud is conical in shape and brown at the tip,

How To Deadhead Dahlias In Pots

Deadheading dahlias growing in pots is also very important and will result in lots of beautiful new blooms. You will deadhead a potted dahlia the same way you did for a dahlia thriving in the ground. First identify the spent dahlia blossoms, then follow the stem down to the main branch, and snip there.

pink and white dahlia flower petals
Beautiful dahlia blooms in all colors will thrive well into fall with proper deadheading techniques.

How Many Times Do Dahlias Bloom?

If properly deadheaded, dahlias will bloom over and over until the cold hard frosts demand they stop. They are such a popular flower because there are a huge variety to choose from, and they bloom prolifically from mid summer until frost, when deadheaded correctly.

up close photo of dahlia bud about to bloom and spent dahlia flower that needs pruning
From left to right, dahlia bud about to bloom, spent dahlia bud that needs trimmed, and another bud that is about to bloom.

What To Do With Dahlias After Flowering

After the initial rush of flowers, be sure to follow this guide to deadhead your dahlias regularly! Once it begins to frost, a dahlia plant will no longer be able to bloom.

pink and white dahlia flower with additional dahlia flowers behind it


Available in a rainbow of vibrant colors, dahlias are a magnificent flower that carry the last whispers of summer floral vibrance into fall. We hope this simple guide to deadheading dahlias has allowed you to enjoy these remarkable blooms well into your Autumn season.

Learn how to deadhead Floribunda rose bushes here!

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  1. Thank you for sharing this useful information, I didn’t grow dahlias this year, but definitely on the list for next season, they’re beautiful! 🙂

  2. It’s still planting season here in Australia – but I will have dahlias in my garden soon! I love them so much, but it’s only my second year growing them. Thanks so much for this post – it’s very much appreciated by us dahlia newbies! x

  3. What are the names of the pink dahlia shown and the striped dahlia? Thank you for this tutorial. I’m new to dahlias but haven’t checked where to buy more prized ones. I just bought two that don’t even have names at Lowes for my first plantings to fill a couple of small pocket planters. Thank you for your help!

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