October 27, 2010

Dahlias in Pots?

The Connecticut Dahlia Society has a display garden at Elizabeth Park in Hartford that I look forward to seeing every year.  The society holds a dahlia show in late August, but I thought it was a big disappointment this year, as the plants were barely a foot tall then, and the blooms were nowhere to be seen.  I'm not sure why they were so late this year.  By mid October, though, they were spectacular.

I don't know much about growing dahlias, but I'd like to have these snazzy eye catchers in my garden.  But I don't want them lined up and staked in a display garden, I want them scattered in my borders adding color and flash to the rest of the plantings. 

What I do know about dahlias is that they have to be dug up and stored over winter here in zone 5.  Digging around in established borders is disruptive, and it just seems like a lot of unnecessary hands-and-knees work on a cold November day.

So, can I grow them in containers?  Move the containers around the garden to fill spots?  Just pick up the pots and put them in the cool basement over winter, leaving the tubers undisturbed?  Can I start them indoors in early spring so they actually bloom in the summer?

The American Dahlia Society says I can, and provides some good instructions, including how to stake the bigger ones in their pots as they grow.

I'm going to try a mix of different dahlias in containers next year and see if it's easier than planting, staking, digging up and storing.

Has anyone tried it?


  1. Yes you can - I've been growing dahlias a long time this way - sometimes I plant in the ground, sometimes in containers. If using a container, you've got to be careful to use some really sturdy support to keep stems from breaking. I find the tubers do better left in pots in a cool spot than if I dig and store in newspaper and/or peat, but you can do either. Dahlias are so nice in the fall especially, they're worth a bit of trouble.

  2. I used to keep dwarf bedding dahlias in pots and used them like many people use geraniums. They could be tucked into a bed for a burst of colour or lined up on the front steps. I often started them inside with my other seedlings to give them a head start as well. I always removed them from their pots over the winter though, usually breaking up the tubers so I could have more plants.

  3. Growing them in containers sounds like a great idea.

  4. Laurrie, I've always thought dahlias were too much trouble- digging and storing tubers is not on my list of fall garden chores - but I have seen some incredible ones this year (I love the ones with the bright yellow flowers and the dark purple leaves). I'm thinking I may try one of two next year, leave them in the ground and hope for the best. If it's meant to be then it's meant to be!

  5. I had never thought about potting up dalhias. I don't grow them because I don't have a very good place to store any that are dug up. Potting up the dahlias sounds like a good thing to try. There are so many lovely colors and sizes to try. I will be interested to see how it goes.

  6. Cyndy, I'm encouraged to hear they do better stored in their pots than dug up. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Marguerite, I like the idea of moving the bright spots of color around the garden as needed, and it's good to know that works for you.

    Sweetbay, thanks, I'm going to try it!

    Debbie, some people have said they treat dahlias as annuals, just planting them as you propose, and leaving them in the ground... if none come up next year they buy new ones!

    Lisa, if this experiment works for me next year, I will definitely post on it!

  7. Hi Laurrie, I say go for it! Try it and see if it works. It sounds perfectly sensible to me. :)

  8. Garden Ms. S, Thanks for the encouragement! We'll see how it works.

  9. Can you please give me the name of the pink and yellow dahlias. They are
    very pretty.


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