It’s dahlia season and hopefully yours are full of flowers. (If not, the hot summer probably slowed them down, but hang in there. Cooler temperatures spur growth and bloom.)
Deadheading – which means cutting off the fading flowers – will help you get the most out of your dahlias. It keeps your garden looking neat, allows the plants to redirect energy from making seeds to more flowers, and it gives you a close-up view of your dahlias’ awesome beauty.
But since we’re all living in the real world instead of a garden book, there may be times when you don’t quite manage to cut every fading flower before all of its petals have dropped. When that happens, you’ll find that some seedpods look a lot like buds. Here’s how to tell them apart – most of the time.
Dahlia buds usually look like flattened balls, as you can see in the photo on the left above.
Dahlia seedpods, on the other hand, usually have a longer, more conical shape, as in the photo on the right.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a hard and fast rule because dahlias are so wonderfully diverse. The buds of ‘Nonette’, for example, are cone-shaped, while the seedpods of single dahlias are often cylindrical. But if you remember to (a) look at other buds on the plant and (b) keep the flattened-ball vs. longer/conical distinction in mind, you should be able to deadhead with confidence.
Good luck, and enjoy your dahlias!