Making larger (and smaller) flowers

July 14th, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Dahlia 'Kenora Sunset'

Exhibitors have a way of increasing the size of dahlia and chrysanthemum flowers for their shows, and we can use the same technique in our gardens. We can also adapt it to provide more flowers that are a little smaller, rather than larger, and more effective in the garden.

Increasing the size of dahlia and chrysanthemum flowers is not difficult. Simply snip off the buds immediately below the main bud on a stem and all the energy will go into producing one large flower instead of a number of smaller ones. Use sharp secateurs or sharp kitchen scissors as the stems are soft and juicy and blunt secateurs will simply squash them and let in disease.

The result will be larger flowers that look more dramatic in the garden and in large arrangements but which mingle less well with their neighbours.

With both chrysanthemums and dahlias, some varieties have been developed to provide fewer, larger flowers and some to develop more flowers that are smaller. So it pays to start with varieties that suit your intentions.

The opposite approach is to snip out the main bud to encourage more buds to develop lower down the stem. These will produce smaller flowers, better suited to mixed borders and mixed arrangements on the kitchen table.

The same technique can be applied, depending on the variety, to leucanthemums, asters, tall calendulas and sunflowers – anything with branching flower heads with a single flower at the end of each branch.

OK, I can’t guarantee how it will work with all these other flowers, it will vary with the different varieties. But it’s definitely worth a try.


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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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