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If your dahlias go to seed, what to expect if you plant the seed?

Posted by HighlanderNorth Mid Atlantic USA (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 27, 11 at 13:58

I know that growers will allow their dahlias to produce seed to produce new hybrids, but they carefully control the process, making sure that the flowers are only pollinated by pollen from the flowers that they choose.

But if I allow my 7 closely growing dahlias to seed, without controlling where the pollen comes from, what would I expect if I grow those seeds next year?

Lets say a yellow flower is pollinated by a pink flower....Would it be safe to say that the resulting seeds will produce a pink and yellow flower that is in between the size of the 2 parent plants? What if pollen from more than one flower from different dahlias pollinates a single flower of another flower.... Will there be traits of 3 or more flower combined?

Have you tried this, and what was the result? Will most probably end up looking bad and maybe only a few will look OK?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: If your dahlias go to seed, what to expect if you plant the s

Dahlias are octoploids which pretty much guarantees that each child will be different. However, with dominant and recessive genes there is a tendency for many open pollinated dahlias to revert back towards open centers, eight petals and a pallet of the colors one can mix up using red, white & yellow.


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RE: If your dahlias go to seed, what to expect if you plant the s

"Lets say a yellow flower is pollinated by a pink flower....Would it be safe to say that the resulting seeds will produce a pink and yellow flower that is in between the size of the 2 parent plants? What if pollen from more than one flower from different dahlias pollinates a single flower of another flower.... Will there be traits of 3 or more flower combined? "
A yellow flower pollinated by a pink flower will produce several color possibilities. Probably there will be a very few solid yellow, very few solid pink, many blends of the two and orange which in dahlias is a blend of yellow and pink pigments. There is possibility of solid red also. As the previous post said they are octoploid and the with extra genes, you get lots of possible color combinations. I would rule out getting any purple flowers and white would also be very rare. But all could happen.

The same is true for size. Many will be the same size as one of the parents. Some could be smaller than both parents and some could be larger than both parents. Most will fall into what you say about half way. It would be very unlikely that any flower would be two sizes bigger or two sizes smaller.

A dahlia flower when pollinated by a bee can get pollen from any flower the bee visited that day. If the bee visited all of the flowers in your garden that had pollen, the flower could have seeds pollinated by numerous different flowers. Having said that, the flower visited by the bee just before visiting your flower is the most likely candidate. Each seed can only have one pollen parent and by the way most dahlias are not self pollinated but some can be.
Most seedlings look terrible. about 2% look good and 1% look very good.


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RE: If your dahlias go to seed, what to expect if you plant the s

  • Posted by ornata London UK (8/9%3F) (My Page) on
    Wed, May 30, 12 at 7:15

Apologies for reviving an old thread, but as an enthusiastic grower-from-seed, my view is that if you have a bit of extra space and time it is immensely rewarding to grow plants of many genera from your own saved seed. Yes, it's probably true that in the case of Dahlias you might end up with a bunch of undistinguished-looking plants, but equally you could end up with something lovely. There are few things more exciting than waiting for the first blooms on your seed-sown plants.

I've grown (and lost through frost) some attractive plants from saved seed of what was probably 'Bishop of Llandaff' crossed with an unknown red double-flowered Dahlia. Some of the offspring were rather gangly with floppy-stemmed single flowers. Others were more compact, with semi-double flowers. Flower colour ranged from orange, through reds and deep pinks. Leaf colour also varied but most were dark. The anticipation of their first blooms was like being a child waiting for Christmas!

Dahlias are so easy to grow from seed and such fast growers that it seems a waste not to give it a go.


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