How well do full size Dahlias do in pots?

HighlanderNorthApril 3, 2012

I NEED to plant all my dahlias a my new home in pots, because although I just moved here 26 days ago, my roommate is difficult to live with, and she neglected to inform me that many of the basic appliances and home systems are either broken or malfunctioning, and it's questionable whether she will be getting the stuff fixed or replaced soon. The a/c doesnt work, the oven, 2 burners dont work, the sink incinerator is out, the washer doesnt work, so I must go to the laundromat, the heater is lacking in effectiveness, etc. Plus, she capped the water lines going to the back yard where I would be growing plants, so there is no water source there.

So, I'll probably be moving in a month or 2!!!

Anyway, my dahlia tubers have been in the refrigerator here for 26 days now, and I'm ready to take them out and start them in pots or in trays to see which ones grow eyes. Then I hope to grow them in pots.

I bought 4 pots the other day that are 15" wide, by 13" deep, and I will be planting my tubers about 5-6" deep, where the pots are 13" wide, and they should have about 6-7" of dirt underneath them. I paid only $5.99 for the pots(each), which is a pretty good price fr a heavy plastic decorative pot.

But the dahlias I'm growing are supposed to grow 4-5 feet tall, but if they get less than 8 hours sun, they grow taller(like last year).

I, of course, will need to trellis them by using upside down 42" tomato cages with the spike ends cut off and bent into spikes and driven into the soil in the outside edges of the pot(if they will fit into the pot).

So, will larger dahlias grow in pots this size, if watered well enough? I see dahlias being sold in smaller pots than this, and there are usually more than one dahlia in each pot. So I'm hoping that 1 dahlia in each 15" pot will work out OK. I'll probably need to secure the pots so they dont blow over during a windy spell when they are grown and flowering...

If I move, I might then transplant them from the pots into the ground later, but some will stay in pots. Will that work, and will the new tubers have enough room to develop so I can dig them up and use them the next year/

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I grow my dahlias in pots and they do just fine. I used them as a screen so they had to be in pots to move where I needed them.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 7:04PM
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I got interested in growing dahlias in pots a couple of years ago when we stopped to eat at a restaurant with the most gorgeous flowers. Some of them were as tall as the gutters on the roof. Then I realized they were ALL grown in pots, and that blew my mind (and all were dahlias!). I started with 4 plants last year but wasn't brave enough to grow them completely in pots. This year I plan to do most of them in pots because I've upped the number to 25 and don't have the space to plant them all in ground. I also think from what I've read over at that they do just as well in pots. It certainly would be a lot easier to dig them up in the fall after that first killing frost. If it was an especially early frost, you might be able to move favorites to a sheltered location and get a few more weeks of flowers. The idea of dividing them in my potting area is much more attractive than the thought of digging them out of cold wet soil, as I did last fall. And I like vikingcraftsman's idea of using them as a screen!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Growing dahlias in pots works reasonably well but if the pots are above ground, like on a deck or a patio, they need lots and lots of water. If you bury part of the pot into soil in a garden, the results will be better and you can still move them rather easily. The feeder roots will have access to water and nutrients in the soil. They may suffer a set back when you move them but they will definitely survive.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:40AM
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One of the advantages of needing lots of water is you look at your plants more often. Any problems can be corrected early.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:49AM
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As I have written before over the years, I grow dahlias (and roses) in both pots and soil and can categorically state that all of my plants in the soil did and do better than potted plants.

That does not mean any of the potted dahlias did not flower and prosper, only that the soil dahlias always looked better.

This year, one of my experiments is to move a couple of low performing potted dahlias to soil, so I will be able to easily see if soil dahlias indeed do better. Two of the candidates did extremely poorly last year (a Loverboy and Rip City - both red dahlias. Is this a pattern) so I am hoping with more room to stretch out the roots, they might make a comeback. Otherwise, it's the recycling bin next year!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 10:12PM
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I would love to see what size pot you are using. I have grown both ripp city and lover boy in pots. They did as well as the ones I had in the ground. Having said that I have never done test like you are doing. The most sunny area and easiest to get to was the drive way. So pots were the way to go. I know have cleared areas in the back of the house so in the ground is possible again.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 10:27AM
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Hey Davidinsf: I totally agree with you that almost categorically plants grown in the ground do better than plants grown in pots.

I've tried growing LOTS of stuff in pots, and they almost always seem to be dwarfed as opposed to the same type of plants in the ground.

Tomatoes, from my experience dont do very well in pots, unless the pot is huge. Although, I grew some very large Zinnias last year from seed, and planted half in the ground and half in pots, and they grew just about equally tall and large. So I was hoping that Dahlias wold be similar.

I see dahlia plants being sold at the better garden centers in pots, and usually there isnt just 1 dahlia in each pot, its 2 or 3. I'm talking about medium to larger varieties too. Now I dont know how well they do later on after you bring them home and you leave them in those pots with 1 or 2 other dahlias.

We'll see.........

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 12:05PM
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Linda's Garden z6 Utah

Viking, How big are your pots? And do the dahlias grow to full height?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 12:38PM
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tropic lover check the pictures I posted on the other dahlia web site. It is easier to show you than try to explain. Some of those dahlias grew to over 9 feet. I don't need them any taller. The smallest size pot I use is 12 inches by 12 inches. Most are double that.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 12:03PM
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I can't imagine any dahlias prefering my "garden". We moved to a new development a few years back (before I discovered dahlias) and the soil is hard clay mixed with any rocks and gravel that were left over when they backfilled. The shrubs look sick and it's almost impossible to dig deeper than a few inches. I do use larger pots and partially bury them to increase stability. I like being able to move them if size becomes an issue or if I need a filler. I start them indoors, move them to the deck where they can be covered if frost threatens and place them in the beds about the time I would normally put the tubers in the ground. They seem happy. I've had good results so far, and plan to continue.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 7:55AM
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We live in a great area for farming. Problem is it is out on the north fork. Where I live is a giant ant hill full of sand. This island was created my the glaciers. So whatever got pushed here is what you got. If you go through old issues of National Geographic, where ever in the past there was a volcano the soil is great for farming. So if soil is the only factor you are considering for your dahlias potting soil is the only choice for me at this place.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:19AM
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