Monty Don shares ‘particular’ plant to deadhead to ‘extend flowering’

Gardeners’ World: Monty Don gives advice on growing dahlias

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Deadheading is the gardening term used for the removal of faded or dead flowers from plants. It is an important task to keep up within the garden throughout the growing season. Deadheading is generally done both to maintain a plant’s appearance and to improve its overall performance. Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don has shared how to tell when dahlias need to be deadheaded.

Dahlias are the quintessential autumnal plant – with many flowering well into September and even October, as long as the first frosts keep away. 

It is very important to deadhead dahlias regularly, as they will continue to produce many flowers from summer to autumn, as long as this method is kept up. 

Deadheading stops the plant from putting unnecessary energy into producing seeds and seedpods, therefore discouraging the plant to shut up shop for the year. 

Removing spent blooms before this happens will redirect the plant’s energy into further growth and bud formation before the weather turns.

Monty advised: “Keep deadheading throughout October, particularly the equatorial plants like dahlias. This will extend their flowering season and squeeze the last bloom from them.”

The gardening pro noted that it can be diffusely to tell dahlias need to be deadheaded, but there is a key indication gardeners should lookout for.

He explained: “Spent dahlia flowers can be tricky to differentiate from unopened buds, but the foolproof difference is that when they have finished flowering they become pointed and a cone shape, whereas the unopened buds are rounded.”

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), dahlias need to be deadheaded regularly for them to thrive.

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They said: “To encourage dahlias to produce more flowers, deadhead regularly, ideally weekly. This ensures plants put all their energy into making flowers rather than seeds.

To deadhead a Dahlia, don’t simply cut off below the spent flower. This will leave a flowerless stem that just looks ugly, and won’t promote flowers to grow back either.

Instead, cut back to just above the point where the flower stem joins the main stem. As you do so, you’ll probably notice a couple of tiny buds nestling there.

With the removal of the spent flowers, the new buds should come to life and bloom in a week or two. Gardeners who are attentive in taking care of their dahlias and keep up their deadheading regime will have blooms until the plant is knocked over by the first frost.

Always use a clean and sharp pair of secateurs or snips when deadheading any plant to ensure the plant doesn’t develop diseases.

To promote continuous flowering, dahlias need to be deadheaded regularly, especially the smaller flowered varieties that produce copious amounts of blooms all at once.

As well as deadheading, gardeners need to be pinching out the plant’s shoot tips. When the main stem gets to about 40cm (16in) tall, pinch out the tip, just above a pair of leaves. This will lead to branching at this point, resulting in a bushier plant.

Gardeners who are growing these plants for giant flowers or for cut flowers need to nip out the smaller flower buds behind the central larger bud. 

This will give you larger, better quality flowers. But this isn’t necessary for those simply growing dahlias for border displays.

The RHS have also shared how gardeners can protect these plants from the UK’s harsh winter weather.

They said: “Dahlia foliage will be killed off by frost in late autumn or winter. Once frosted, you can either leave plants in the ground or dig them up and store the tubers in a frost-free place over winter.

If you’ve grown plants from seed, these will have developed tubers by the end of the season, which can also be left stored indoors. As seed-raised plants are genetically variable, only choose the best to keep.

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