are Dahlias easy to grow from seed?

zinnia_bloomsDecember 1, 2006

I recieved some dahlias seeds and wanted to know how easy they are to grow from seeds and when do you start them to plant them when it gets warm .

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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Yes, they are very easy to grow. Sow them in late winter/very early spring. The seeds germinate within 5 days when the temp is ~60 degrees F.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 9:51PM
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rootman(zone 5/6 W.PA)

They are extremely easy to grow from seeds. They are no more difficult to get to germinate and grow than Zinnias. You may encounter a number of blank (no contents), seeds but you can tell this if you press the seed between your fingers and it does not appear to have anything inside, but is empty. If you are unsure about doing this just plant all the seeds as they are and those that do not germinate were the blanks.

You have to start early, under lights or on a sunny windowsill. Right about now for you in Missouri would be a good time. Never put out young plants before all danger of frost is past. Dahlias are extremely frost sensitive, categorized as a tender, tuberous perennial.

Your seed source will determine what height, flower size, color, etc., the Dahlias will be. Seeds gathered from the large dinnerplate types seem to produce the most disappointing Dahlias, plants that grow enormously (often ove 5'), but have smallish, single to semi double flowers.

Seeds gathered from the short smaller flowered varieties seem to produce offspring closer to the parents. All in all, there is a strong reversion in seed grown dahlias from large towards smaller flowers, and from double towards single flowers. Colors are often very good, with rich and interesting shades. Still, there is the possibility that the next earth shaking, breath taking Dahlia is among your seeds. The Dahlia breeders cull hundreds if not thousands of seedlings to get just one very good, new Dahlia.

If you grow a particularly nice Dahlia then you can save the tubers like any other Dahlia grown from a tuber. You will be surprised what a nice clump of tubers come in the fall from a Dahlia that grew from seed. Also, the seeds saved from a particularly nice seed grown Dahlia could be prone to produce offspring of equal or even better quality.

How I would start the Dahlias is in a new, clean plastic pot using a good name brand seed starting mix, sterile is best but not necessary. Scatter all the seeds across the surface of the starting mix that has been pressed down gently, as densely, close to each other as the numbers between the parentheses here ( 1 1 1 1 1 1). Cover the seeds with fine vermiculite about 1/8th to 1/4 inch deep. Water well once then cover with a piece of plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band. Place in warm lighted area. As long as moisture droplets are seen adhering to the plastic cover there is no need to water. After it appears that most of the seeds have germinated remove the plastic cover, water, but do not overwater. Never allow pot to sit in water.

When Dahllia seedlings have two true leaves it is time to prick out each seedling into its own 4" pot. Use a good potting mix that drains well. You will see as the plants grow which ones will be tall, and which ones will be short. Leaf size and stem length and thickness are bigger and thicker with tall plants. It is recommended to pinch the main stem when 4 pairs of leaves emerge. This makes a bushier plant. Plant in the garden in full sun, in good soil that drains very well when all danger of frost is past. Support for the tall Dahlias is necessary, tomato cages are pefect for the task.

The Dahlia seeds, if fresh and having been stored correctly will germinate within a week if it is warm. Some seeds will germinate faster than others.

Growing Dahlias from seed is a lot of fun, since it is impossible to tell just what kind, color, form of flower will come until a Dahlia blooms, there is a lot of excitement and hopeful anticipation come bloom time.

Don't forget to give our Dahlias good care. Deadheading is essential for continuous flower production. If seed is to be collected the spent flowers must ripen on the plant so future bloom is dimished. Its a judgement call as to save seeds or not. You may even want to attempt to make purposeful crosses between dahlias by hand pollinating, but this is a skill I have not tried myself.

Some clues as to flower color are indicated by the depth of color of the foliage. Dark colored flowers having deeper green leaves and light colored flowers having lighter green leaves is the general rule, but with burgundy/bronze foliage you can get light gold and light pink blooms as well as dark reds and purples!

Dahlias grown from seed...culture is very easy...exceptional Dahlias, not so easy...entire experience is well worth the effort, its lots of fun.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 10:23AM
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Thanks so much rootman , that has helped me alot , cant wait to get some more seeds of these to try them and see what i get from them , i know what your talking about the ones that dont produce now i know how to check for them i had a few that was duds , now i know why , thank you again zinnia

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 4:25PM
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plantlady2(NW Washington)

I have to differ with rootman when he says the AA sized dahlias produced the most disappointing seedlings- look at our Seedling album & see what good AA & A sized parents can produce. Now, granted we have been doing this for a good many years but please don't knock the large dahlias! There's also a bunch of pictures towards the back of the album that show-- step by step how we grow dahlias from seeds.
We don't start them until the last week in March & they're ready to plant out by the middle of May & in bloom by August. If you start them now you'll end up with really leggy, tall, floppy plants by the time you can put them out in Missouri. When you do plant out you can take off the bottom row or two of leaves & plant deep like you would a tomato plant. This will give you more tubers in the fall as well as a sturdier plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seedling Album

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 7:07PM
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ChiGardener(z5 Chicago)

Good thing I decided to come here. I was just wondering if Dahlia seeds produce plants with tuber roots or regular roots. Think I got my answer. I'm looking forward to planting and growing some dahlias but since I've waiting so long to start some seeds inside I'll probably keep them in pots so I won't have to dig them up almost right after transplanting the seedlings.

Thanks Rootman!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 10:04PM
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Can you sow dahlia seeds outside after the risk of frost is past? Will this allow them enough time to bloom?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 4:10PM
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I put the seed in a damp coffee filter or paper towel (fairly damp). As they germinate I put them in cell packs and under lights where they stay until they are ready to either harden off or move to larger pots. Very easy to grow!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 8:14PM
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What does that mean to "pinch the main stem when 4 pairs of leaves form," to cut off the 4 leaves? Thanks, my first shot at Dahlia's and I have some seedlings just popping up!!!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 12:49PM
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Just pinch the top growing tip and it will branch out quickly..

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 11:45PM
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    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 11:20AM
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Growing dahlias from seed is lot like trying to grow potatoes from seed. I do not believe you would generally want to eat that potato because they do not breed true from seeds. Both the potato and the dahlia have tubers that give you superior plants every year. Breeders of dahlias grow about 1000 seeds to get one really nice one. About 800 are really ugly or just not healthy or vigorous. The 199 or so are inferior to named varieties and the one is very nice.

The dahlia seeds that seed companies sell are nothing like real dahlias. They have been bred them to grow only 2 feet tall and to have semi double flowers that are not much to look at. If you like short plants with randomly colored, partly open centered flowers then grow some from seeds. If you want real dahlias that grow 3 to 5 feet tall and look just like the picture, buy named tubers.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2011 at 10:48PM
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