Topping Dahlias Page 2


  • 3. As the plant grows, you will observe new growth on the pairs of leaves you have left on the plant becoming robust and growing rapidly. These are referred to as laterals. The fewer left on, according to the above chart, the closer you come to the maximum bloom size.



  • 4. When the dahlia has reached about 12-14 inches tall, remove any extra pairs of leaves at the bottom of the stem that are not true leaves (cotyledons). They do not match in shape and size the pairs you counted for topping.

    Since this plant is so low to the ground we cannot provide a picture showing the cotyledons to be removed. However, the picture at the right shows where the top was removed and the emerging three pairs of laterals between the main stem and their respective leaf stems. The grower is pointing to five of the six emerging laterals. The sixth lateral is behind the main stem and cannot be seen.

    The picture on the right also shows the two laterals on either side of the place where the top was removed. At the time when the top is removed those laterals are very small--sometimes barely visible. It is important that they not be damaged in the process of topping the plant.




Under Option II, the plant is allowed to grow until five to seven true leaf pairs have developed -- ranging from 8 to 15 inches in height. Then the top, or tip, of the plant is removed and the leaf pairs to be kept are arrived at by counting down from the top most pair.

This option lets most of the potential leaf pairs and their respective laterals for the plant begin to develop. Since the bottom leaf pairs are the most mature and the leaf pairs to be removed are from the bottom upward, the most mature leaf pairs will be removed. In theory, the plant expended a lot of energy developing those leaf pairs only to have them removed.

Since the leaf pairs to be removed are several in number and at the bottom of the stem the remaining leaf pairs and their respective laterals will be some distance from the soil. Achieving this distance from the soil and being able to place a plant initially grown in a pot deeper in the soil, are the primary reasons for selecting Option II.

The plant pictured at the upper right is "Phoenix" a "B" size. In this example it will be topped to leave four leaf pairs (see table on "Topping Dahlias Page 1").


  • 1. The first step is to allow the plant to grow until it has five to seven true leaf pairs. The plant pictured on the right has six pairs of true leaves. Looking carefully, the six nodes from which the leaf pairs sprout can be identified.

Continued on next page.

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