Dahlias forum→Dahlias.... Perennials, or not?

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Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
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Polymerous
Aug 17, 2013 6:21 PM CST
This subject came up recently over on the site talk forum, where I questioned where to post threads on dahlias. In short, are dahlias a perennial, or not?

They are tubers, so I don't really think you can call them a bulb.

They aren't herbaceous perennials (or are they?), and they are not shrubby perennials.

In the colder climates, they aren't perennial at all, in the sense of persisting indefinitely in the garden. Come winter... they are gone. You have to dig them up and store them and replant them in the spring, if you want to keep them. Even here, in my garden in Zone 9b, their longevity is questionable. Most of mine have overwintered in the ground (unless the ground was saturated), but the ones left out in pots don't survive. (Ask me how I know.) Moreover, the short bedding type dahlias ('Figaro' comes to mind) are typically sold as annuals here.

So what say you? Are dahlias perennials or not? And where, on this site, would it be proper to discuss dahlias on their own (apart from such things as their use in a perennial garden)?


Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait'



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Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Aug 17, 2013 9:40 PM CST
I've always considered dahlias a perennial. Family Compositae. Sunset Western Garden Book describes them as 'perennials grown from tuberous roots.' Since I don't have to lift them, I treat them like any other perennial I grow - plant it, fertilize it, enjoy it, mark it in the fall, look for it in the spring. Most make it, some don't. The same is true for my other perennials. The issue dahlias have in my climate is their roots rotting from too much moisture over winter rather than freezing temps. Some folks do lift them, and I helped my neighbor dig, label, and store a huge amount one year. That was a bit daunting. I then spoke with Dahlia-Dave, a local officianado, and he advised digging/storing a few roots from those I really liked (or were more expensive) to have as a back-up if the in-ground roots failed to return. I don't even do that now. If I can get them past the slugs as they are emerging, they are good to go.
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Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
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Polymerous
Aug 17, 2013 9:50 PM CST
The issue I have had in the past with in-ground dahlias has been gophers (so sadly, they now all have to go into tripping-hazard gopher baskets Angry ). I did have one spot in my garden where everything seemed to die, and that included a dahlia which I had there. We finally concluded that (although the top of the ground looked dry) the soil was too wet.

The discussion over on the site talk forum seems to have come to the conclusion that it is a perennial, also.
Evaluating an iris seedling, hopefully for rebloom
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
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ge1836
Aug 18, 2013 2:23 AM CST
In Zone 6 we dig out tubers and store for the winter.
Its a tantalizing question.I would call them perennials but tender ones because of fall lifting.
The plants that dont work out ,become annuals.
Name: Susan
Virginia (Zone 8a)
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virginiarose
Aug 18, 2013 2:31 AM CST
I've never grown them as a perennial, they changed us from 7b to 8a and I never felt like storing them. The ground still freezes once in a while so conditions are iffy. I grew the mixed border type for my mother and they were cheap and spectacular! Problem was when a storm came up it snapped them off at ground level. Angry

http://gardening.stackexchange...

The last couple of years I ordered bulbs and I did not like them because they were unpredictable. Most need to be staked because they flop over when they bloom. Not a real problem for gorgeous blooms but I just hate digging them up for winter and I hate not knowing if the ground will freeze or not. I've never had any come back because they either freeze or rot. They are so ratty by fall, I just toss them and buy new ones in spring if I decide I want some.

http://www.ask.com/question/ar...

This above link explains it best I think. They are native perennials in Mexico.

http://www.swallowtailgardense...
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Mat.6:28-29
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Aug 19, 2013 8:00 PM CST
Susan, you shouldn't have to did them up where you are. I never dug them in Maryland. Sure, you may lose some, but typically they should be fine.

Now, I have grown them from seed and some consider them to be an annual from seed, BUT, I didn't do anything with those plants and come spring they were back. When I checked, they were huge tubers!!! Too bad there's only one that's really worth keeping.
Name: Susan
Virginia (Zone 8a)
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virginiarose
Aug 19, 2013 11:02 PM CST
Well, maybe they just rotted. I will try again soon! Thumbs up
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Mat.6:28-29
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Aug 21, 2013 2:52 PM CST
Thumb of 2013-08-21/gardengus/81b981


Thumb of 2013-08-21/gardengus/c85d66
a couple blooms
My first year with large dahlias from tubers
Kindly given me for a volunteer project by some nice people over at dahlia cubit.
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
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Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Aug 21, 2013 4:07 PM CST
Beautiful! I especially like the purple one!
Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
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NJBob
Aug 21, 2013 4:24 PM CST
I would also call them tender perennials.
Name: Susan
Virginia (Zone 8a)
God is the only thing that matters.
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virginiarose
Aug 21, 2013 5:39 PM CST
gardengus said:Thumb of 2013-08-21/gardengus/81b981


Thumb of 2013-08-21/gardengus/c85d66
a couple blooms
My first year with large dahlias from tubers
Kindly given me for a volunteer project by some nice people over at dahlia cubit.


Drooling Drooling Drooling
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Mat.6:28-29
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Daylilies Irises Vegetable Grower Moon Gardener Dog Lover
Bookworm Garden Photography Birds Pollen collector Garden Procrastinator Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Polymerous
Aug 21, 2013 6:43 PM CST
Does anyone try to save those short, small flowered bedding type dahlias, from year to year? I just bought a couple 4" pots, so I can rotate out the larger, taller dahlias in the patio flowerpots into a mixed planting bed that I am going to be working on.

I realize that I will have to store the pots in a shed or something, to protect the tubers from frost... I am just wondering if it is going to be worth the effort.
Evaluating an iris seedling, hopefully for rebloom
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Aug 21, 2013 7:35 PM CST
I have for a lady I garden for . I normally just pick the prettiest ones to save . They are larger the second year and flower sooner so I would say , yes.
I store mine in a cardboard box with wood shavings , in my unheated garage, pull them out mid/late April and pot up till late May then into the garden.
you can put them directly into the garden and cover them with mulch but they are much slower to sprout, and if they come up early and get frosted off they you have even a longer wait.

This info is from my zone 5 gardening experence .
Don't know your zone.
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
There is More to Life Than Now
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Daylilies Irises Vegetable Grower Moon Gardener Dog Lover
Bookworm Garden Photography Birds Pollen collector Garden Procrastinator Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Polymerous
Aug 21, 2013 10:00 PM CST
Gus, do you mean that the tubers are larger, or the flowers are larger?

Fwiw I'm in "northern" CA, zone 9b. Our last frost date is March 31st, but it's been a while since I've seen frost that late.

What I would probably do is just stuff the pots into one of our unheated sheds, and then pull them back out again approaching March 31st, fertilize them, and start watering. I really don't want to have to do any digging up of tubers if it isn't necessary.

Evaluating an iris seedling, hopefully for rebloom
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
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ge1836
Aug 22, 2013 2:25 AM CST
I always consult you-yube.
This video gave me something new.She is storing large dahlia tubers and cleans them and lets them dry off for a few hours befor storing.I wonder if just shoving them in a bag has been the reason my storage technique didnt work.
We are going to try to save some of our favorites from a "breeders selection" I bought this season.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Aug 22, 2013 5:14 AM CST
The whole plant is larger because the bedding dahlias I purchase are started from seed they are larger the next year because they started from tubers . A lot like the difference in geraniums from seed vs cuttings.
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
There is More to Life Than Now
Surprisingly GREEN Pittsburgh (Zone 6a)
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crittergarden
Oct 17, 2013 7:58 AM CST
The thread "Dahlias!" in Dahlias forum
SHOW ME YOUR CRITTERS! I have a critter page over at Cubits. http://cubits.org/crittergarde...
Surprisingly GREEN Pittsburgh (Zone 6a)
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crittergarden
Oct 17, 2013 2:10 PM CST
The thread "could we have a dahlia forum?" in All Things Gardening forum
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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
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pirl
Dec 2, 2013 11:26 AM CST
Pinterest always has interesting ideas:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/6...
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/6...
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/6...
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/1...
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Dec 2, 2013 11:33 AM CST
A tuber is a type of bulb.
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/b...

I have 2 of these. Although this was their 3rd summer, they still couldn't hold themselves up. I think I will trade them in the spring for something that doesn't need to be staked. The flowers are awesome, but I don't like looking at the stakes, or adjusting them after a wind storm, realizing the flowers are pointed at the ground anyway, yada yada.
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