Dahlias forum: To Pinch or Not to Pinch

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Name: Erin
Pittsburgh, PA (Zone 5b)
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ErinGerg
Jun 23, 2018 9:19 AM CST
I'm trying a bit of an experiment this growing season. It seems like when I pinch per the recommended 3 sets of leaves to a foot tall, the two large stems are an awkward amount of weight so high up. I pinched one earlier and it is developing two thick stems closer to the ground. Those tubers that I planed straight in the ground at the end of May are at or just past pinching time, and I think I will let them grow. One is developing it's side stems already.

Does anyone skip pinching or totally swear by it?
Name: Frank Richards
Clinton, Michigan (Zone 5b)

Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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frankrichards16
Jun 23, 2018 10:54 AM CST
In past years I have planted 2 dahlia tubers of the same variety together at a stake. I did this because if one does not grow, your have another. Kind of an insurance policy. The second reason for doing this is that growing two together usually gives you two smaller plants. No pinching required. Please note that digging up two dahlias planted side-by-side is usually a pain in the...

At any rate, I have pinched and I have not pinched. Pinching takes time, so I no longer partake. And besides, I do like tall plants:) Also, I am retired and have a large garden... tasks have to be prioritized... less time sweating, more time vetting!

However, if you are showing dahlias in competition, pinching and a lot more is required.
Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Jun 23, 2018 1:07 PM CST
I think Frank's last line is key. " However, if you are showing dahlias in competition, pinching and a lot more is required."

My experience is that they will develop lateral branches whether you pinch or not. If you pinch they may develop earlier, and if you are going for as many blooms at one time as possible, which is important if you are showing, that helps. It will also delay the blooming, and most shows are in the Aug September (at least around here)

One thing that sometimes isnt mentioned with the pinching advice, is where you pinch depends on the size of blooms that plant makes. For the A & AA flowers, folks pinch after three leaf sets, but for smaller blooms, pinching after 4 or 5 leaf sets is standard.

I used to pinch regularly, but found, like you that I was often pinching to early. Instead of forcing the laterals, it would just develop into a two branched stem. Now I only pinch if the plant is getting really tall and spindly. I do tend to cut most of my flowers for vases, so I suppose that is "pinching", just later.
Name: Erin
Pittsburgh, PA (Zone 5b)
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ErinGerg
Jun 27, 2018 9:42 AM CST
mandolls said:I think Frank's last line is key. " However, if you are showing dahlias in competition, pinching and a lot more is required."

My experience is that they will develop lateral branches whether you pinch or not. If you pinch they may develop earlier, and if you are going for as many blooms at one time as possible, which is important if you are showing, that helps. It will also delay the blooming, and most shows are in the Aug September (at least around here)

One thing that sometimes isnt mentioned with the pinching advice, is where you pinch depends on the size of blooms that plant makes. For the A & AA flowers, folks pinch after three leaf sets, but for smaller blooms, pinching after 4 or 5 leaf sets is standard.

I used to pinch regularly, but found, like you that I was often pinching to early. Instead of forcing the laterals, it would just develop into a two branched stem. Now I only pinch if the plant is getting really tall and spindly. I do tend to cut most of my flowers for vases, so I suppose that is "pinching", just later.


Oh wow! Great info! I was thinking that I was pinching too late because of the dual-stem development. Very interesting! I'm definitely coming down on the side of not pinching, as I do not do competitions, but as my garden grows -you never know! Smiling
Name: Erin
Pittsburgh, PA (Zone 5b)
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ErinGerg
Jun 27, 2018 9:44 AM CST
frankrichards16 said:In past years I have planted 2 dahlia tubers of the same variety together at a stake. I did this because if one does not grow, your have another. Kind of an insurance policy. The second reason for doing this is that growing two together usually gives you two smaller plants. No pinching required. Please note that digging up two dahlias planted side-by-side is usually a pain in the...

At any rate, I have pinched and I have not pinched. Pinching takes time, so I no longer partake. And besides, I do like tall plants:) Also, I am retired and have a large garden... tasks have to be prioritized... less time sweating, more time vetting!

However, if you are showing dahlias in competition, pinching and a lot more is required.


I like it! I only have about 20 plants right now, but I'm ready to just not pinch. I like the idea of planting two next to each other. I also have some tubers that have multiple shoots which makes for a bushier plant anyways. I think that I will split less next year (to ensure multiple sprouts) and skip the pinching. Less work all around! :)

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