Are Dahlias Perennials? How to Plant and Care for your Dahlias

Are Dahlia’s perennials? We all want to know, read on and learn about many of the details involved in growing dahlias.

Dahlias are flowering plants with tuberous roots native to the mountains of Mexico and Central America. Are dahlias perennials? Well, read on, and you will find out.

There are several thousands of different dahlia varieties that you can grow in your garden. The hardest part is picking your favorite ones. It’s like picking your favorite candy.

“The plants range from 1″ to over 6 feet tall, and their blooms range from ” up to 18”. Can you imagine a flower so big? The plants range from 12” to over 6 feet tall, and their blooms range from 2” up to 18”. Can you imagine a flower so big?

Are Dahlias Perennials?

These plants bloom from midsummer through fall and are considered a perennial in zones eight and higher. So, there is no need to dig them up for the winter if you live in these zones unless you want to divide the tubers.

Dahlias growing in raised beds

What are some of the dahlia varieties?

There are too many to mention, but some of my favorite varieties are Dinnerplate Dahlias, Powder Puff Dahlias, Anemone Dahlias, White ball Dahlias, free flower type varieties of small decorative dahlias, and the sport variation dahlias.

What growing conditions do dahlias need?

Dahlias can be grown outside in most climates, but they prefer warmer weather. If you live in a cold environment, you must wait for the last frost to pass before planting. In addition, tubers need to be dug up and stored in a warm area for the winter.

It is best to grow dahlias in a moist well, drained sandy soil rich in organic matter, and a ph level of 6.0-7.5.

Starting your tubers indoors or in a greenhouse is very common for an avid gardener and can be done up to 45 days before planting.

Dahlia seeds are also another way to grow dahlias. You can start your seeds in a greenhouse or indoors as well.

Dahlias are sun lovers and thrive with 7-8 hours of sunlight.

Do you remember if dahlias are perennials?

Only in zones eight and higher does the ground remain warm enough that the tubers do not freeze.

Where to buy your dahlia tubers and seeds

There are several places to buy your tubers, but I am a bit partial and love the variety I can get

From Sarah’s Cottage Creations Flower Farm. Once a year, the farm has a dahlia tuber sale where you can purchase your favorite varieties of dahlias. This year the sale starts Saturday, January 21st. Yup, that is tomorrow!! And I cannot wait. 

You can click HERE and see the gorgeous dahlias that will be going on sale.

Dahlia seeds from scc flower farm
dahlias growing in a field -Are Dahlias Perennials? How to Plant and Care for your Dahlias

How do you plant, grow and care for perennial and nonperennial dahlias?

  • Planting seeds
  • Planting Dahlia tubers
  • Planting actual small plants

How to plant and care for dahlia seeds

seeds being planted in a seed tray

Use a seed tray and fill the tray with moist seed-starting soil

Using the end of a pencil, make a small hole in the ground, place your seeds in the hole, and gently cover the seeds with soil.

Moisten the soil and keep it moderately damp at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a greenhouse or covering over your seeds will help this process.

Germination should occur 7-12 days later.

Once the plants are large enough that their leaves are touching each other, it is time to replant them into a larger container. Again, I suggest a 3” pot or larger. Once the plants are large enough that their leaves are touching each other, it is time to replant them into a larger container. Again, I suggest a 3” pot or larger.

If you have grown your seeds indoors, you must harden them off. Hardening off is a process to acclimate them to the natural environment outside.

This process involves taking them outdoors for short periods and increasing that time each day.

Be sure to make sure the last frost has passed before you plant them in the ground.

You may find that the plants from seeds will take longer to bloom than planting tubers or small plants.

How to plant dahlia tubers?

Now that you know the answer to this question, “are dahlias perennials” let’s talk about their roots or tubers. In areas where Dahlias are considered perennials, you can leave the tubers in the ground all year. That would be zone eight and higher.

Dahlia tubers -Are Dahlias Perennials? How to Plant and Care for your Dahlias

As I mentioned above, you must wait until the last frost has passed, and ideally, the soil temperature is 55 degrees or higher. In most areas, this occurs in Mid-April through May.

Prepare your soil to be moist and well-drained with a ph of 6.0-7.5. If you have no idea what the ph of your garden soil is, you can purchase a soil tester to check it and then amend your soil to get your dahlias off to a great start.

If your soil is very clay-like, you can add sand, vermiculite, and peat moss to make it drain well. Typically, you can find these soils at Home Depot and local nurseries.

“Dig a small hole approx. ” – 6” deep, sprinkle a handful of bonemeal in the hole and lay your tuber on its side in the hole.”Dig a small hole approx. 4” – 6” deep, sprinkle a handful of bonemeal in the hole and lay your tuber on its side in the hole.

Place your tuber in the ground with the eye of the tuber facing up and cover it with dirt.

Next, you need to sit back and wait….. for those sweet green leaves to make their way through the soil. Do not water the plants until the tubers have sprouted. (If you water early, it can cause the tubers to rot)

Once the plants have sprouted, they should get a deep watering 3 to 4 times a week. You can also use a drip system or a soaker hose for extended periods.

How and why to pinch your dahlias

  • Pinching your Dahlias will help to grow a hardier plant and could help the plant to bloom longer.
  • You want to wait until the plant has reached a height of approximately 10-12” tall.”You want to wait until the plant has reached a height of approximately 10-12” tall.
  • Pinch off the newest sprout of leaves on the main stem. Doing this will encourage more lateral growth, which gives you a bushier plant.

How to protect your dahlias from common pests and fungus

Unfortunately, small common pests include snails, slugs, earwigs, caterpillars, grasshoppers, thrips, and more.

These pests love to fill their bellies with dahlias.

Having healthy plants is your best defense. However, at times you need. Keep your beds clean and free of debris.

Where critters can hide out Early morning is the best time to inspect for bugs. You can often remove them with your fingers or use a mild insecticidal soap.

You can use a bug deterrent of choice, such as Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural bacterium.

You do not want to use pesticides that will hurt insects that are beneficial to your garden.

Occasionally dahlias can be suspectable to fungal disease. First, avoid fungal infection by planting your plants 18-24” apart, so they have proper aeration. If you happen to see a fungal disease starting, snip off the leaves or buds and then treat them appropriately. Occasionally dahlias can be suspectable to fungal disease. First, avoid fungal infection by planting your plants 18-24” apart, so they have proper aeration. If you happen to see a fungal disease starting, snip off the leaves or buds and then treat them appropriately. 

Do I need to stake my dahlias?

Some dahlias can grow to a height of 6’ with a very heavy stalk, so you may need to stake your plants. Some dahlias can grow to a height of 6’ with a very heavy stalk, so you may need to stake your plants.

Typically, you will find that the plant will bloom more efficiently if it has proper support. Staking also aids in aeration, protects from wind damage, and more.

You can read up on staking your dahlias HERE. This article is full of great information.

dahlias staked in a garden-Are Dahlias Perennials? How to Plant and Care for your Dahlias

Do I need to fertilize my dahlias?

Feed your dahlias monthly during the blooming season with a fish emulsion mixture. (Read the directions on the bottle of fish emulsion).

How do I keep my dahlias fresh?

  • Cut your flowers early in the day when it is cool.
  • Place the fresh-cut blooms in a glass of hot water (160-180 degrees) and let it.
  • Cool for an hour.
  • Replace the water in your vase daily.
dahlia flower rarangement
Dahlia Arrangement with pink dahlias

How to propagate dahlias from tubers

Once your plants have finished blooming and have died, back you want to cut the foliage off, leaving about a 3-4” stem sticking out of the ground. the foliage off, leaving about a 3-4” stem sticking out of the ground.

Using a pitchfork or a shovel, dig up the plant tubers, and shake off the access dirt.

Let dry in a cool area for a few days.

Place the tubers in a box of vermiculite or similar material and store them in an area that will remain at approximately 50 degrees or lower for the winter.

Dividing your tubers

When you are ready to divide your tubers for the spring, be sure to cut each piece with an eye.

Allow each piece to dry for a few days before you plant them.

Tips to growing beautiful Dahlias

  • Fertilize once a month
  • Water well
  • Use mulch to keep plants moist
  • Stake your plants
  • Watch for fungi and pests
  • Deadhead spent blooms by cutting down to the main stem.
Sweet Nathalie Dahlia
Sweet Nathalie
Jowey Linda Dahlia
Jowey Linda


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Now that you know everything there is to know about Dahlias, I hope you grow some in your garden. They make the most beautiful cut flowers you will enjoy all summer. And I promise, once my garden starts to blossom, I will share more with you.

If you enjoyed this post, you will also love these.

Everything you need to know about growing hydrangeas

How to grow Zinnias from seed

The basics of flower arranging

an assortment of dahlia flowers
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2 Comments

  1. Wendy
    I’ve wanted to plant these but just haven’t done so. I’m pinning for future reference.

    1. You will love growing dahlias if you have not tried them before. They make such great-cut flowers to take in the house and enjoy.

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