Site Talk forum: What about Dahlias?

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South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
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Polymerous
Aug 17, 2013 8:31 AM CST
I added a few more Dahlias to my garden this summer, and while idly searching the list of different plant forums, I noticed that there wasn't a forum for Dahlias. I did notice a forum for bulbs, but Dahlias are tubers, not bulbs. Dahlias aren't exactly perennials either.

So just where is it, exactly, that we could post or talk about Dahlias?

(And while I'm on the subject... what about a microbadge for Dahlias, too?)
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 17, 2013 9:01 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Well, we do have a perennials forum and I think the dahlias are best discussed in there for the time being. I don't think we've had enough dahlia conversations to warrant a whole forum dedicated to them but I'm certainly open if we can get more dahlia people here. We just don't want to create a forum unless there's a good demand for it, otherwise we end up with a ghost town forum and nobody likes that.

As for the microbadge, I'm certainly willing. I just need a good subject image that I can use as a base for it.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Aug 17, 2013 9:07 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Here is the dahlias microbadge!

http://garden.org/special/badges/badge.php?bn=Dahlias
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Aug 17, 2013 3:35 PM CST
I understand your reluctance to open up a new plant forum, if there aren't many people to discuss said plant.

I'm not really a "Dahlia person" myself (in the sense of joining Dahlia clubs and exhibiting at shows). I do like and grew a few, though, so I have now added the new badge to my list! (Thanks! I tip my hat to you. )

I was wondering where one would properly post about them on this site, though, as they are neither a bulb nor a perennial. Thanks for the suggestion to use the perennials forum for that purpose.
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 17, 2013 3:46 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I thought they were perennials. My grandmother grew them year after year and would dig them and store the roots over winter.

You could discuss them in the all things gardening forum, too. And we have a Dahlias database if you want to talk about specific cultivars you can post photos, comments and replies.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Aug 17, 2013 5:10 PM CST
I always thought they were perennials too, just had to be lifted in colder climates.
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
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Polymerous
Aug 17, 2013 6:03 PM CST
Well, hmm.... I guess that depends on what you mean by a "perennial". To me, it is a herbaceous or shrubby plant that (given proper conditions) persists in the garden indefinitely.

Dahlias are tubers, so where exactly does that place them? They aren't herbaceous (or are they?), they aren't shrubby, and I don't think that you can call them bulbs, either. (In fact, in the garden centers here, very short bedding dahlias are sold as annuals.)

As for persisting in the garden, in the colder climates, dahlias certainly wouldn't. Even here in Zone 9b, survival is a matter of where they are during the winter. The relative few that I have grown have (thus far) overwintered in the ground (unless the ground was saturated with water), but definitely not in pots. (Ask me how I know.)

Maybe I will go pose the question on the perennials forum...
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Aug 17, 2013 6:09 PM CST
Interesting. Then what about iris? I consider them a perennial as well. Sort of a gray area I guess? Shrug!
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 17, 2013 6:15 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Dahlias are listed in the database here as perennials. Perennial has to do with life cycle and the kind of roots it has doesn't come into play when determining whether it's a perennial or annual.
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Aug 17, 2013 6:30 PM CST
I just posted a thread over on the perennials forum.

You make a good point, Dave, wrt life cycle... (and abhege, wrt irises). I suppose that at least in the VERY warm zones (zone 9 and warmer) they could truly be said to be perennial (persisting in the ground). In the colder zones, well.... maybe "tender perennial" is applicable? (I confess that I wasn't thinking of "hardy" versus "tender".) To keep them from dying overwinter in all but the warmest zones, you do have to dig and store them - but at least they have the capability to persist year to year in some places.
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Aug 17, 2013 6:32 PM CST
I had dahlias when I was in MD that I did not dig and they did fine. And we had some winters with lots of snow and cold. But my daughter is in the Detroit area and she does have to lift hers in the fall.
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Aug 17, 2013 6:42 PM CST
Interesting... I just read somewhere (I can't remember where, now... maybe on another forum) that they persist in Zone 9 and lower.

My sister lives in KS, currently listed as Zone 5, but she told me a few days ago that there is some discussion as to rezoning her part of KS to Zone 6. She stopped growing dahlias years ago because they die over the winter there, and she got tired of digging and storing the tubers.

The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Aug 17, 2013 7:27 PM CST
Just for the sake of conversation then would you consider cannas, tuberous begonias, and glads as tender perennials? I wouldn't. I've never considered a dahlia to fit the description of a perennial either.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
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Paul2032
Aug 17, 2013 7:29 PM CST
I have never considered a Dahlia to fit the description of a perennial but Wikipedia calls them a herbaceous perennial.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Aug 17, 2013 7:35 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Cannas are definitely perennials. So are tomatoes and peppers, by the way. So are sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. A perennial is merely a plant that can survive for multiple years, given the proper conditions.

Some perennials will get killed by the smallest amount of frost. So we often don't think of them as perennials, yet they are.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer
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Paul2032
Aug 17, 2013 7:52 PM CST
What about glads and tuberous begonias?
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 17, 2013 7:54 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Perennials both.
[Last edited by dave - Aug 17, 2013 7:54 PM (+)]
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Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Aug 17, 2013 7:54 PM CST

Plants Admin

It might help to look at it the other way around. Annuals are plants that die after producing seeds (monocarpic) and are capable of completing their life cycle within a single year. Biennials are similar, but require two growing seasons (approximately, the line between annuals and biennials is sometimes a bit fuzzy). There are always exceptions, but pretty much everything else is a perennial. Whether it is capable of surviving the winters where someone lives is a completely separate and unrelated issue.

Many plants are perennials, but can be grown like an annual if a person chooses to. Perhaps that's where some of the confusion comes in.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer
Tomato Heads Garden Photography Birds Cut Flowers Foliage Fan Plays in the sandbox
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Paul2032
Aug 17, 2013 8:00 PM CST
When I was in the army in the 60's and at Ford Ord I was amazed to realize that Pelargoniums [geraniums] were perennial when I saw huge plants with woody stems. They were tender annuals in Utah...I thought.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Aug 17, 2013 8:38 PM CST
I have also had geraniums live through the winter here in GA. Of course, it was by mistake, meaning I forgot to bring it in! I think it was in enough of a micro climate, south side, driveway and brick probably soaking up a lot of the heat.

But this certainly has given me pause to rethink the meaning of perennial.

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