Trimming Dahlias

by Ben Lawrence

Dahlias produce lots of leaves and branches (laterals). At the bottom of the plant, these leaves and laterals provide hiding places for insects and moisture for bacterial and fungus organisms to multiply. Removing some of these leaves and laterals helps control those insects and organisms.

At the same time, the leaves provide shade -- protecting the soil and roots of the plant from the heat of the sun. They help hold in available moisture increasing the humidity. Dahlias prefer high humidity. Removing the leaves takes away some of those benefits.

The degree to which leaves and branches should be removed from the bottom of dahlia plants depends on the particular environmental conditions in which the plant is grown and the personal inclinations of the grower.


The picture on the right shows a plant stripped of leaves and small laterals from the soil up to about eight inches. The open space allows good air circulation.


When removing leaves, be sure to rub off the very small beginnings of laterals or they will grow rapidly to fill in. The small laterals grew to the size shown in just 10 days.


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