Can your Dahlias stand up by themselves?

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, ALAugust 20, 2012

These plants make a great flower, no doubt, but these plants will not stand up on their own. I gave them a pass last year, since they came from bare tubers, but after overwintering I was expecting stronger, self-sufficient plants. There's 3 of them, 2 of which get sun until about 2 pm, the other until about 1. Maybe that's not enough? Maybe a "normal" winter will kill them anyway?

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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Staking seems to be quite common with Dahlias. You might check out some of the threads at the link below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Dahlia Forum search results for Staking

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 11:11AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

No idea there was a Dahlia forum, thanks! Thought these would "mesh" themselves into the CL fence they are at the base of, but they're falling away from it, but good to know that's common, I guess. I'll know next year to weave them more aggressively into the fence when they first start growing, before they lean the other way (assuming they show up again.)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 3:45PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

If you are growing Dahlias with massive and fancy heads on plants taller than three-four feet in height, then the sheer numbers and volume of those heads are going to be tricky for the stems to cope with. Expect to need two to three sturdy stakes per plant and string to hold them upright.

Strongly recommend you don't weave them through your chain link fence. You could use the mesh as a support for tying raffia or old pantyhose or whatever to for individual stems, though.

If you are growing singles or only slightly double heads (nothing special or fancy) then most of the stems will stay up until there's a stiff wind. A discreet loop of sturdy poly string from the fence, round the plant like an apron, back to the fence, is all that's needed to stop the drooping. This works for plants up to six feet. The imperial Dahlias have massive stems and generally don't need much at all for support.

Remember to keep on deadheading throughout the season to keep the flower flushes coming through.

Overwintering (8b's not that distant from 9a zone) - the frost is going to swish the stems turning them into blackened ruins. One or two degrees of frost is plenty. They may still have seed heads on them. Birds could be interested (finches) but they don't seem to be a favoured food source. When they're dead simply cut them back to about foot off the ground.

If you put a thick-ish layer (up to four inches) of rough, semi-finished compost over the tubers they should see out the winter in the ground. Just know that by the end of the growing season they will have multiplied like potatoes underground and there will be survivors who will make it through, even after a stiff frost or snowfall.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 2:46AM
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I set up a rather flimsy tomato cage over the center of the plant as soon as it emerged. The cage is completely hidden by branches within and branches outside the cage. It is about 5' tall, 2.5' in diameter and full of blooms while standing strong throughout. I'm still amazed everytime I look at it. :)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 6:54AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Thanks for the responses.

Maple, I did put a tomato cage on one and you're right, wish I'd done it sooner because I broke one of the 2 main branches when I did that.

Vetiv, I don't know what kind they are but seriously doubt they're any kind of fancy type, came from the boxes of packaged bulbs at WM last spring. There's a pic my honey took a few days ago below, and the other 2 are a different color, solid pale pink.

Thanks for all of the helpful info. I'm curious why you don't recommend the fence as a support. Seems like a handy idea to me but I'm sure you had a reason for saying this.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 9:24AM
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My first and only experience with a mass planting of dahlias goes back to when I bought my first house, 55 years ago. It was in the industrial part of town and had been a rental for over 20 years. The soil was terribly compacted with no gardening effort for many years. I ordered a truck load (5 yards)of mushroom compost from a local mushroom grower, hot stuff. A friend was taking out his dahlias and gave the tubers to me. I had enough to make a row 50 feet along a 4 foot wood picket fence. I dug in lots of the compost down to about 18 inches, planted the tubers deep. They loved that mushroom compost and grew up above the picket fence before blooming. The flowers were the large dinner plate size in a variety of colors. The plant stems were strong and no staking was needed. They were in full sun, about 5 miles inland from the Momterey Bay in California. Al

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 10:39AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Al, that sounds breathtaking! It sounds like the soil in the area where these are is just not fertile enough yet, reclaimed from grass last year. I'll keep adding compost and hope for even better plants next year.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 10:11AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

From what I have read, been told, and experienced, dahlias, as a rule, do not like the deep south. They seem to hate our humidity. That being said I have had some success with Bishop of Llandaff. (I have not experimented with tons of dahlias since I have failed with all except this one.) It does best with afternoon shade. It does its best if it is staked. It's a nice plant with attractive purple leaves.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 6:14PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Oh I would like that, purple leaves - then who cares if it makes flowers? Nice! Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 12:08PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

You mentioned threading the stems through the chain link...My thinking was - those stems are hollow and not greatly supple. You could end up snapping more than you thread.

Al's right - heaps of good compost. No. More than that! Like growing a great crop of potatoes.

Have to confess - humidity is not an issue for me so I tend to forget that gardening challenge, though I know it's all too real for your south end gardeners.

Dahlias can be so useful in the back or very front of the border and flower for a very long time, so I suspect someone has developed a humidity-resistant strain.

For dark-leaf Dahlias - I'm wondering if any of Keith Hammett's Mystic varieties have been licensed for your area.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 4:32AM
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