How to Stake Dahlias to Keep Them From Flopping Over

In this article, gardening expert Kaleigh Brilon shows you five simple methods for staking dahlias. Say goodbye to floppy dahlias forever!

Rows of stake dahlias in the garden. Dahlias have large pompom-shaped flowers in bright orange and hot pink.

Dahlias come in many shapes and sizes. From single to ball to decorative, there’s a mesmerizing dahlia to delight everyone. If you’re the kind of dahlia lover who thinks bigger is always better, then you’re probably aware that these delicate but stunning flowers are prone to flopping over. It’s due to their hollow stems, but staking them can help prevent that.

There are many ways you can stake dahlias. It might sound like an all-day task if you’re growing rows upon rows of flowers, but there are time-efficient ways to prop them all up so you can have bountiful blooms until the first frost.

I’ll show you several methods you can try to keep your dahlias from falling over. I’ll even show you some creative solutions to help you use what you have on hand.

Method 1: Individual Stakes

Close-up of flowering Dahlia 'Kenora Sunset' in a garden with individual wooden stakes in a sunny garden. The Dahlia 'Kenora Sunset' features large, fully double flowers with a beautiful blend of warm sunset colors, including shades of yellow, orange, and red. The petals have a captivating, almost fiery gradient.
For small-scale gardeners, individual staking ensures plant stability and prevents flower waste.

Individual staking is ideal for backyard gardeners only growing a few dahlia plants. It will allow you to focus on each stalk so every plant will hold up to the elements. When you care for every plant, you can ensure that no flower will go to waste. 

Individual staking is also an option for those growing tons of flowers, like commercial growers. It’s incredibly time-consuming and will require plenty of resources, which may be expensive, depending on the stakes you use. You may want to opt for a different option and use individual stakes only as needed.

Good staking starts from the very beginning. Before you plant your tubers or seeds, place stakes where you want your dahlia plant to be. Sturdy stakes will be about one foot deep in the ground, which must be done beforehand so you don’t accidentally damage tubers or tender root systems.

The young dahlia will grow right next to the stake, and once it’s about one foot tall, you can begin tying it to the stake. Use twine, twist ties, or garden stake clips to attach the main stem to the stake. Make it loose enough that the plant can continue to grow, but tight enough that it won’t be able to fall over.

Continue tying new growth to the stake. You can space out the ties to about every six to twelve inches as needed. Add a taller stake if you underestimated how tall your flowers would be. Some staking systems allow you to add extra height as the plant grows. This may be a worthwhile investment if you plan on trying different dahlia varieties.

If you’re growing dahlias with giant flower heads, you’ll likely need to stake right underneath the bloom so it won’t succumb to the wind or rain. Varieties with smaller blooms won’t have to be tied as much since they don’t cave in under their own weight.

Method 2: Netting in the Middle

Close-up of growing young dahlia plants in a garden with netting stretched as a method of supporting the plant. Dahlia plants are characterized by their attractive, deeply lobed and serrated leaves. The leaves are dark green in color and have an oval shape.
Grow dahlias on both sides of netting or wires with stakes down the row.

This method allows you to grow dahlias on either side of the netting. Prepare your dahlia row by placing stakes every two or three feet down the center of the row, and prep the soil to be planted on either side. Install your drip irrigation system now, or you’ll struggle to get it in place once your plant is growing.

Attach the netting to the stakes once the stakes are securely in place. The netting you choose should have large holes, similar to cattle wire fencing. This will allow the plants to easily grow through the spaces and prevent the stems from growing around the material.

You can opt to use a few wires instead of netting, too. Place a wire every foot or so up the stakes. As the dahlias grow taller, you may need to tie each one to the wires.

This method is good if you have limited resources. You don’t have to worry about having an industrial supply of stakes; you just need enough to go down the middle of your row. The downside is it’s really only effective for larger-scale dahlia growing. If you have a small yard, you might not need a double row of dahlias in your one flower bed.

Method 3: Corraling

Close-up of blooming dahlias 'Ball Beatrice' in a garden with a corraling support method. The Dahlia 'Ball Beatrice' produces fully double, ball-shaped blooms of deep orange color. The petals are tightly packed, creating a rounded, symmetrical flower head with a lush and opulent appearance.
Ideal for long rows of dahlias, the corner-stake method provides support on both sides, preventing plants from falling over.

This is essentially the opposite of the netting in the middle method. It’s ideal for rows of dahlias, which, again, may be better suited for growing large amounts in long rows. This method will work well in windy areas since it will hold your dahlias up from both sides and prevent them from falling over.

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Place stakes on the corners of your rows with support stakes periodically between them. Get your irrigation system in place and plant the dahlias in the center of the row. Once your plants are in place, wrap wire around the stakes at one-foot height intervals. You can make the stakes as tall as you need them for your dahlia variety.

This method will prevent the dahlias from falling over due to height or heavy winds. Exceptionally tall dahlias with heavy flower heads may need additional support. Try adding shorter dahlia varieties, like the Cactus Flowered Blend, to give them more support at the base while having fewer flowers that need to be propped up.

Though this method works well for long rows of dahlias, it can also work in flower beds at home since it’s meant to contain the flowers. You probably won’t need to tie dahlias too much since they have support on all sides. Alternatively, you can try tomato cages, which can provide a similar effect.

Method 4: Layers of Netting

Close-up of flowering Dahlia 'Firepot' in a sunny garden with fine green netting strung over the plants for support. It produces fully double flower with petals that range from intense, fiery yellow at the center to a bright, warm pink at the tips.
Suitable for rows or groups of dahlias, the netting method involves setting up stakes and placing netting over the plants.

This method is good for rows or groups of dahlias. Begin by setting up the area as you would for the corralling method, with stakes in the corners with additional supports as needed, followed by the irrigation system and then the dahlias.

Once the plants grow to be about one foot tall, lay netting with large holes on top of them. Secure the netting around the stakes. Depending on how much support your dahlias need, repeat this process after every one to two feet of growth. Since the dahlias are against each other in this setup, they can help support each other, along with the netting.

You won’t need to worry about this method becoming unsightly because the foliage will cover up the layers of netting. Just make sure you don’t have excess netting hanging past the stakes. When it comes time to remove the plants, you should be able to pull them up with the netting pretty easily.

Method 5: Creative Methods

Close-up of a Dahlia 'Duet flower growing through a hole in a chain link fence in a sunny garden. The Dahlia 'Duet' is an elegant dahlia variety which features fully double flowers. The flowers have many layers of deep pink petals with white tips.
Utilize an existing chain link fence for easy dahlia support.

I’m a big fan of using what I have, and sometimes, all I have is junk! Unless you have specific reasons for your garden to be aesthetically pleasing, you can be unorganized and unkempt for the sake of healthy dahlias.

If you have a chain link fence, you can use it to support your dahlias. You use it like the second method of netting in the middle and planting dahlias on both sides, tying dahlias to the fence as needed.

You can also use chairs, tables, and other patio furniture and decor to help hold up those heavy heads. Though you may not plan to grow your dahlias this way, it’s a good trick to remember in a pinch. It seems like stormy days with gusts of wind show up out of nowhere, and I’m scrambling to find things to hold up my plants.

It doesn’t get any simpler than using nature to help nature. Use sticks, dried plants from last year, or nearby plants to help hold up your dahlias. Dahlias can help support each other when planted closely together, reducing your need to have so many stakes.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to stake every dahlia, but if you’re growing large varieties, you’ll probably need to give them some extra support. You can stake them individually or try a more economical method of staking multiple plants together. Whatever method you choose, you can be confident you’ll have sturdy, beautiful blooms in no time.

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