How to Pinch Dahlias

What is “pinching” a dahlia?

Pinching a dahlia is simply removing the top portion of your dahlias plant right above a node. You can do this with your fingers or a pair of snips. We pinch our dahlias when plants are about 8”-12” tall and it doesn’t hurt the plant at all. If you’d like to see a demonstration of how to pinch dahlias, we made a video of Farmer Steve showing you just what to do.

Why would I want to pinch my dahlias?

Pinching dahlias redirects their energy from one big, thick central stem to multiple side-shoots. This will encourage your plant to produce multiple blooms all throughout the growing season. Quickly after pinching your dahlias, you’ll notice two new shoots will grow where only one was before! 

Pinching your dahlias makes them 

  • bushier, 
  • less top-heavy
  • less prone to wind damage,
  • PLUS the stems will be a more manageable size when you cut and arrange your first dahlias blooms.

We don’t pinch all of the dahlias we grow though…

How do we decide what to pinch and what not to pinch?

We pinch:

  • Ball forms we will use for grocery bunches
  • Super vigorous or tall varieties that we want to “contain”
  • Any varieties we want to use for cuts but tend to have shorter stems. (Pinching helps give us more usable stems!)

We don’t pinch:

  • – Dinnerplate dahlias that already have a nice habit
  • – Collarette forms that we won’t use for market bunches
  • – New-to-us varieties that we want to assess in year 1
  • – 1st year seedlings (we want to see those blooms as fast as possible!!!)

Don’t worry if you’ve already pinched a seedling or a collarette form! It’s not wrong to pinch these. We’ve just chosen not to at our farm. 

What do I do with the part of the dahlia that I pinched off?

Some people just throw that part away, but you can use it to make a rooted cutting! If you’d like to learn how to take mid-season rooted cuttings, we’ve written all about that over here.