Dahlia imperialis

Mount Angel, OR(Zone 8a)

Just wanted to share the news with you dahlia holics, that my imperialis is up, I noticed today. It is up about 3 inches, I couldn't believe. I had just left in the ground from last year and the stalk is still there from last year; figure it is a built in stake if I need one. The "stake" is probably at least 12 feet tall. We have had so much warm warm weather these last two weeks.

And no Annie, I haven't gotten the rest planted; just too many farm things for me ; like tractor work for my DH.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

First things first, Lenjo. I would like to hire your hubby and his tractor for a week here. I'd hire a little tiny Tonka Tractor right about now! My shoulders suddenly hurt from shovelling. It's a good hurt though. Your dahlias will get planted in due time, I have every confidence.

You left D Imperialis out in the OR rains and cold and it came back like a champ? I like the idea of a built in stake from last years stalk. Very clever! I'm just a tad mystified how I'm going to stake mine when it grows. It will grow too- Daisyruffles!

I have my secret strategy in place in the Great "DASCAR" Dahlia Imperialis Race with Daisyruffles. It's a friendly competition, but one I'm taking seriously enough to inspect Dr Don's tree trunk and buds hourly LOL! Can you believe I broke off part of a bud the other day while exploring the soil? Can you hear Daisyruffles snickering again? LOL! This is going to be fun and wondrous watching a dahlia tree take off.

Nice to know that yours made it through the winter A OK, Lenjo.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Hey, Joann, that is great news. Maybe this year it will bloom earlier for you then from being left in the ground???

Well, Annie,
Yes, I am laughing while I read your comment.

My good guys still only has one very long eye now. It is like 3" and is very happy. Kind of wished it had another eye for just in case but don't see any sign of them.



Hehehehehehehe, tell me, Annie.


Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Well, um, before I carelessly broke off the very end of one growth, it was 0.5 inches LOL. Now with some sun and heat it's got to be at least a whopping INCH but I'm not digging around looking for it anymore. I've learned my lesson.

Today should be a banner day for the dahlia tree and all others in the great outdoors in the PNW.

Thumbnail by Poochella
Mount Angel, OR(Zone 8a)

Annie, my experience last year with the imperialis was I didn't ever stake it. It held itself up quite well. I had a 6 foot stake ready to go but never used it. I noticed this afternoon another shoot coming up. Yes, a banner day indeed, I have been out all afternoon; mowing, staking some roses and tying things up. Love it. You know I left the stake because I didn't want to cut it off as I know how the rain just siphons down that hollow stem.

Carol, we will keep fingers crossed to see if it blooms. I had planted this baby last year early in the GH and so I don't think it really is much different than last year but it is outside much much earlier.

My ground is ready for me to plant but when? Maybe Saturday, tomorrow my dd, Katy, wants me to help her plant a hedge and other things scheduled for the weekend make it difficult to find time. I am anxious to get them in the ground.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Well, Annie and Joann,
I just happened to look again today and you guys want to know what!!!
There is another shoot that is like 1" long about 4" away from the real long one, the 3" one. Hint, Hint, Annie, I am ahead...........!!!!!! nananananana
So it must like its spot................
I got 2 shoots, I got 2 shoots, I got 2 shoots............................!!!!

But I have two poles next to it just in case it does need staking. It would be nice if it didn't tho. I hate staking up dahlias. My least favorite job.

Well, Joann, hope you do get to plant real soon. Have Katy just dig a long row in the dirt and you just come by with the hedge plants and then go home to do your planting, LOL
I did quite a bit of planting today, both reg. flowers and dahlia tubers.
Am a happy camper here..............

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Hey my D imperialis also has some shoots, I took it out of the garage recently, about 2 weeks ago when it started to get a little more like spring, and put it in my neighbours greenhouse. It gets a lot warmer there. I think there are 2 strong shoots from the base, I cut the stems (2) back but left a couple of node 'rings' and they have got buds. It didn't get very tall last year, a cold summer. The solid pieces I took off were still green, and had a node at both ends so I buried them on their sides just below the surface in the same pot, I couldn't get them far down because of roots. They are making buds too! If they take root that will be a bonus, I am wondering if I should scrape a little off the bottom of a node 'ring' to help it take root.

Drdon if you are watching do you think this will help?

I will put mine in my new tropical bed this year when it (hopefully) is fully dug! I have got a dahlia species come through in the ground too, I dug down to one of them and it was around 4" below the surface. The dahlias I planted in pots in the greenhouse (late) are all growing too, it has warmed up here! from 11C to 21C just like that!


Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Welcome back Janet. You've been dormant in the winter. Time to dust off the shovels worldwide. Can't wait to see your photos again.

Interesting on the cutting nodes parts off your old trunk, if I read correctly. These work very similarly to regular dahlias/tubers/stem nodes then. Let us know how that works, if you get the shoots to grow. Sounds promising so far.

I've been meaning to ask others with d. imperialis: Mine is in a whiskey barrel so it's elevated about 18" off the ground where the little shoots are. My question is how much room should I allow on either side of the whiskey barrel for side branches? Will the trunk grow UP taking the side branches with it or will they just branch from there?

I've got a space right next to this barrel where I'd like to plant another dahlia to two, but not if they're going to run smack dab into branches. The imperialis nodes/shoots are currently aiming away but I don't know which way they will branch once they go on growing.

Any ideas?

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Thank you Poochella! Dormant is the word, too long to wait for some fun! I think drdon said it can be done when I asked the question once before, growing from the stems that is, both stems have buds at both ends. If they don't root I could always take the shoots off and try rooting them, but if they are kept wet they might root from the new shoots anyway if under the compost, that is if they grow sufficiently! Did any of that make sense?

I think I know what you mean about the side shoots, mine looks to have some around the bottom nodes, 2 or 3 on each. They look like they would shoot out sideways, but I think they shoud do a curve and go upwards.

There's 3 shoots coming from the base, and the tallest one is at least 3".....is there a prize?

Thumbnail by wallaby1
Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Here's one of the stems, the right side has 2 shoots

Thumbnail by wallaby1
Mount Angel, OR(Zone 8a)

Last year's Dahlia imperialis had basically two shoots and one was considerably larger than the other. Its bottom leaves continued to die off as it stretched to the sky. So it really does look more like a tree than a bush.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Thank you both. I'm going to proceed as if the tree will shoot upward instead of sideways branching. And if branching does interfere with adjacent tall plants, I'll find a way to make it work. I've even moved full grown dahlias before and will again if I have to.

Janet you have leaves! And now I see the stem buds, well worth a try to propagate. Good luck!

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Well, you guys. I have some pics of my shoots but my dig. camera is off with the prom kids tonight. So will post them tomorrow, I hope.
As for the shoots, Janet, yours looks more like a normal tree. One of mine is coming off the bottom of the stalk from the side. So am wondering it it will work? The other one is more down on the main stalk but.... you will see from the pics tomorrow.
Will be cool to see everyone's dahlia tree this year grow, inch by inch each day. Yeah!

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

Hey all you dahlia nuts, I'm here in the audience cheering you all on. I'm not on any one side though, k? LOL

Joann, mine aren't in the ground yet either......I'm hoping for next week.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Funny, Mendy, very funny! Geez, was hoping you were on my side. So sad, no real friend here in Oregon, I guess, hehe.
Yes, you need to plant those dahlia tubers!
Should be nice next week so you can do it.

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Carol I think yours will just need time to establish, I got this as a plant grown from a cutting (it was all soft) in 2004, it grew to at least 9 feet tall (a hot summer!), I only got it at 2 ft tall or so in early July that year. Last year it made the 2 stems but not very tall(cold summer), it will now have a good root system and the shoots are coming from the base, there are some also from the nodes, but they are slower. Give it time!

The stems where I cut them were nice and green, that's why I planted the cut off solid stems. I took a pic, well I would wouldn't I! This is real progress!

mgh I planted my dahlia tubers late, due to the fact that it was still winter up to mid April! I put them in an unheated greenhouse, it was still much colder than normal, but the first 2 to shoot are now at least a foot tall and outside to toughen up, so get them going or the season will be over!

Poochella I am going to do everything I can to ge those stems growing, packing around them should encourage roots from the new growth. If I have some extras I can safely risk the parent in the ground. I have several species dahlia seedlings that self set, and Bishop's Children, they are just growing now, I thought the seed would have gone to mush with -7C. I saved a lot of seed, but too much else to grow, not enough space! Will have to try the special ones though, perhaps next year. I have a quite large area being dug for tropicals, or anything that desperately needs a home or has large leaves or looks remotely tropical, my latest 6 dahlias (3 x 2) will have to go in there too.

You can see the green stem top on the right one, the pink bit at the bottom is a petal, this is when I cut it and moved it on 16th April.

Thumbnail by wallaby1
Delhi, IA

Anybody have a photo of this dude you are all talking about? Is it a tree dahlia?

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Hi jamlover, yes it is a tree dahlia, drdon has some good pics of his (look at past dahlia threads) but in the meantime here are some pics


Mount Angel, OR(Zone 8a)

Well, Annie, Carol, and Janet, I looked again and I saw a third stalk, the tallest is about 4 inches tall and as big around as a pencil. It is really kind of fun watching this thing like Jack and the Beanstalk. I got my original tuber from Plants Delight, a bit spendy ; $15 . This is its second season in the location where it is at. I will have to try to dig it this fall.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Mgh, I was hoping you'd be rooting for the underdog: me! I can send you pompons ( real ones, not dahlias) with Ala Mode!

Carol's way ahead ( so far!) Wallaby has experience and thus an unfair advantage, so she's not in the rookie's race. Sorry Wallaby! Ditto for Lenjo and the instigator of this madness LOL: Dr Don. The prize is honor, right Carol?

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Oh Poochella, you are desperate! Right, the war is on! No flowers, no plants in the ground, that's not experience! Mine is going to get lots of compost, lots of K fertiliser, still prob. won't get flowers, they had one flowering in the big bubble dome thing here (Eden project), some chance I have! If I kept it in my neighbours greenhouse I might get flowers, but I would have to remove the roof! Hmmmmm....

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

LOL you guys! Now Carol, if I were on your side, Annie would be upset with me.........if I were on Annie's side you would be upset with me! LOL I hope they all do well and grow REALLY tall and flower like you could NEVER imagine!!

Thanks, Annie, but I think the pompons would be a bit much! LOL

Mount Angel, OR(Zone 8a)

Janet, interesting that you mention the K factor, I was actually wondering about that myself this morning if that would have any help at all. Do you think that would really be a help? Of course who needs nitrogen but the phosphorous does promote roots and bloom,,,mmm, I used to have some of the granular superphosphate around here. Might be worth a try.

Me instigator of madness, you say, I don't think ,so, Annie you don't need any kind of urging. Who will be the judge of this aforesaid race? Methinks Dr. Don will have to come north to judge, he is the real instigator. lol

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Well I'm not absolutely certain about the 'K' Potassium, it does promote flowers, it's 'P' phosphorus that promotes roots, and Nitrogen growth and leaves (nitrogen converts to protiens), but with good roots a plant will grow better anyway. I haven't fed the species other than my own compost mulched which provides natural food, some species dahlias I think like it reasonably poor but I may be wrong. Whatever, a good tomato food watered on may be a good experiment and can't really do any harm, if it happens to stop it flowering it won't do anything different if it isn't going to flower anyway! A liquid feed will be more instant, I have a tomato food that is 11%N, 15%P, 30%K or there abouts, that sounds like a good combination to me! I didn't use much tomato food on my tomatoes last year, lots of good organic compost, some peat compost, river soil and some granular 7:7:7 general purpose mixed in and still got a goodish crop. Lets go for it!

We're all a little mad!

Mount Angel, OR(Zone 8a)

Thanks setting me straight, on the usual formulation of fertilizers. I always mess it up. I knew the three ingredients but always mess up the phosphorous and potassium. I was always under the impression the middle number was the bloom promoter. I learn something new every day.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Well, I am winning now, Annie!!!
See my pic. See how long my shoot is!!!!
Hehehehe, how exciting all this is going.
So................... I am ahead!
Just razzing you, Annie, I hope you know that!
But who knows what will happen later tho.

Thumbnail by daisyruffles
Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Carol you may be beating Annie, but I took a pic of mine yesterday, it was at least 5" tall!

I think the fact that yours are growing from drdons tree trunk puts me back in the race!

Thumbnail by wallaby1
Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Wow, that looks great.
But you have plastic around yours, right???
Geez, I thought of doing that but didn't want to fry the poor guys.

Delhi, IA

Hey, members of the competition____may I suggest a windshield ___or an old window___propped up at a 45 degree angle to the ground (just take a 12" scrap (or wider) of lumber to the north of your clump and rest the other side on the soil). Heat is what the competition needs!!!

Or take an old tire resting on it's side. Cut away the hort. portion leaving only the vertical portion that would run on the ground. Then put a glass on top. Crack it about 3 to 4 inches so heat can escape. The tire works great to jump start a tomato or melon hill. In that case I fill the black tire with soil which warms up quickly.

If you've got sun this will warm things up considerably. I'm going to do idea number one over a short row of dahlias as soon as it stops raining and I get them in the ground. My nephew is at the stock car racing stage of life and is saving me all the glass from his machine; I have all the glasses from my son's various teen age adventures!!

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

jamlover, helping the opposition is not allowed! But it is true Carol, lots of sun and heat is what they need to bring them on. Mine is in the neighbours greenhouse, glass, and it gets quite hot in there even if it's not a very warm day. Lately we have had a couple of 25C days (77F) and the thermometer has gone to over 50C (122F), although that is hanging near the glass and will be affected by direct sunshine. That's why I want to take the roof off and grow it in there! If it were mine I think I would be tempted.

I measured mine earlier today with my hand, and it's taller than the length of my hand, around 7".

Good idea about the tyre, I have used a couple with the wheel hubs to make into large pots for bamboo. If you cut 1 to 2" around from the hub on one side, then turn the tyre inside out you have a great pot on a stand, the extra bit left where cut makes a good foot. You will need 2 people with strong levers and lots of strength and patience, it is nearly impossible to turn them!

Delhi, IA

Hey I'm not taking sides___just trying to cheer on both of you___or is it all of you. I offer advice to anyone willing to listen.

Wallaby1 if yours is in a greenhouse you know how much heat these dudes can stand.

I'm just ready to drill another set to holes in my coldframe (allowing for 4 more inches of growth) as I had to move the taller dudes to the sides and I'm about 15 days at least from being able to set in the open. I will leave them uncovered for at least 4 days before setting them free to do their thing.

Grow dahlias, grow. I wish you sun, warmth and a gentle shower once a week gang.

Mount Angel, OR(Zone 8a)

MM,.I like the tire idea, anything to get a bloom. Last night I had to go out and put an old towel on mine hoping to protect from a possible frost. It didn't though, Carol, isn't this the craziest weather, still so cold at night?

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Well Jamlover, You gave away my brilliant idea!!!!! I've had bricks and rocks gathering heat around my dahlia tree shoots. ( Oh, listen!-- Is that Daisyruffles scurrying off to find bricks?)

I tried the tire idea one year for tomatoes which are impossible to get to ripen without blighting out here. It was a mosquito breeding festival in those tires, so we got rid of them.

Speaking of cold, Lenjo, a couple weeks ago I hooked up my thermostatically controlled space heater in the garage. It's normally used to protect tubers in storage. This morning, when I got back from errands it was running in the wide open garage where I'd set it to protect potted dahlias from cold nights last week. Must have been chilly, or else the Thermocube has a short.

Nice day out today. I am nearly done planting. Now I have to figure out how to configure Jam's windshield and the space heater to get D. Imperialis at maximum heat level! LOL! Carol, you know I'm just razzing you. It's a friendly competition, after all.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Hum, I do have some red brick around. Hum, not a bad idea guys. LOL
But don't have time to do that so..... but I am still ahead so..... but who knows about this weather.
Yes, Joann, this weather is totally crazy. It was up to 80 degrees last week and this weekend it got into the 30's at nite. So wonder what this summer will bring us?
Hot weather I hope.
Well, off to AZ and Hawaii, so will see you all after May 25th!!!!
Bye for a few weeks, yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Temecula, CA(Zone 8b)

You guys crack me up!

I've been lurking here and boy are you guys going for it! Yet D. imperialis will eventually produce roots from a semi-woody stem cutting and we've propagated them that way for a couple of years now. Since we are a long way south of most of you it isn't unusual that all the D. imperialis here are up strong and most are approaching the 2ft mark.

Poochella, I'd consider the tub filled with the D. imperialis. If you decide to plant some smaller stuff around the edges, it will look great, but you'll be watering every day and you may end up doing that anyway as it grows and gets hotter.

The bricks or panes of glass are a super idea!

daisyruffles, remember the tortoise and the hare?....lol. Wait until they get going, there will be more shoots for sure. I'm watching this race with great interest.

Lenjo!!! so good to see you!

On a PNW note, I'll post updated pics of the garden this morning as almost every single one of them has now popped up their heads to enjoy some sun. It's so exciting....

best to all,

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Good, am glad you are laughing the whole way, Don. Humor is a great way to live life!
Can't wait to see your pics, Don.
Some of mine from Annie are now popping thru the soil too and it so exciting. I may miss the time to pinch off the tops this year! But oh well, there is always next year for that.

Mount Angel, OR(Zone 8a)

Carol, have a great trip, all the various tropical flora will be so fun to see.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Although shiverring right now, the d. imperialis shoots intend to leap like hares when it hits 70 this afternoon. I think that's their intention. No leaves unfurling yet, but I can see them greening up. The story unfolds as time goes on.

Carol have a wonderful graduation and trip. Hawaii- enjoy!
Congratulations to your hard working son.

Doss, welcome back! You have d. imperialis too, as I recall. How is yours growing at this point?

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

Hope you have a great trip, Carol!

Lincoln, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Oh Carol you are so lucky! How many plants are you going to bring back? Who is going to look after your D imperialis? I do hope you have a great time, no need to stress about sabotage on your dahlia, no-one would be that mean would they!

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