Dahlias At Stake

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Forgive the pun.

Since I've ordered tubers, I figured it's time to really figure out HOW I'm going to keep everything from flopping over! I "just figured" I could hold them up with wire strung from my decorative poles. That will only work for 10 or so.

I just looked at HD for staking options for the hundred zillion tubers I have ordered. Yikes! $$$$!!!

Al (and others), I truly love the look of the rebar (properly pronounced "rebaah" around here). What HD had was black, thin and I think it would be unobtrusive. Problem: my HD sells 10 foot lengths for about $3.50, so I could only get 5 foot poles for $1.75 each, plus cutting costs; that's a bit expensive considering a 5 ft pole will be buried at least a foot down, so it's really a 4 foot pole. High enough for those cultivars that say they're 5 feet tall?

Tomato stakes and cages are both ugly and expensive.

I looked at bamboo; 6 foot sections are sold in bundles of 6. They would have to be made into tripods, since they would tip over alone; so that would be both ugly and time-consuming. It's pretty cheap; internet bamboo sources sells bundles. Plus, I already have a good 25 7' stakes already.

Those flanged green steel posts don't come high enough and they are U-G-L-Y!

What to do? I like the rebar. Do I stop whining and pony up the dough, or can rebar be found cheaper? Where? We only have HD and Lowes.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Do you have any lumber stores nearby? I have bought rebar from them for a 20' at around $5 and they cut it for me for free. Check and see if you have any lumber stores or even maybe some feed stores.
I also have found rebar poles or metal poles at like what we call the "Goodwill" type of stores for used lumber/building supplies around here. I have found all kinds of goodies there for my gardening ventures.
You could also see if you have a scrap metal place that would have rebar for sale. Also some steel/metal companies have rebar.
So just keep looking around. You will, and I mean you will need fairly strong poles for the dahlias. You don't want to put all this effort in and have them flop all over. Tho I do have a few that I do just let do just that and I don't mind. But these are the more or less short ones. Not the 4-6' ones.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

I thought all the old lumber yards were dead and gone! I'll grab my phone book and call around. Thanks.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Oh, I like them better. Guess I am old fashion but they will give you what is missing in this era. Service, advice, and help!

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

If you asking if it's alright to just use wood stakes I say go ahead. Of course for your investment in this dahlia addiction I would buy some rebar too if possible.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

You are NOT old fashioned! The HD help can be appallingly bad! Once, I bought a log holder at HD (the kind that's a big metal circle). A HD employee asked "What's that?". I told him (stonefaced) that it was a metal hula-hoop.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Al, wooden stakes were expensive, too; but maybe the fact that it is JANUARY has something to do with prices! I should wait for the truckloads of gardening stuff to come in.

I think it would be cheapest to get out the sledge hammer and pull the rebar out of my house foundation. There's so much junk in my basement, it'll stand just fine.

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

I know wooden stakes are expensive - I wanted you to find that out yourself.

The law of sales on gardening supplies is that nothing goes on sale until you no longer need it.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Carol, they only cut the rebar for free for you because you're so cute! I asked them to cut mine at Lowe's and they just started quoting prices ......LOL!

Jax, "stop whining and pony up the dough" for the rebar. It will last forever or until DoomsDay, whichever comes first. I have used redwood posts or cedar, whatever, but they all eventually break and then terrible things happen to your dahlias being held up by them. They are less strong than metal supports in holding up a heavy plant.

Buy the 10 ft lengths of rebar and a hacksaw. Easy as starting a chainsaw to saw them in half.

Yes, 4 ft sticking out of the ground will be ample for dahlias even 5-6 ft tall or robust heavy plants. 8 ft gets tricky, but they make 9 ft bean posts for those. The secret is to tie them often as they grow and move the ties up as the plant gets taller.

Tomato cages and flanged fence posts are ugly until the plant gets tall. I got over it

Metal hula hoop LOL! You are so bad....

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Ah Annie, you are so nice!!! LOL
But really. At the lumber stores, they do it for free. At HD, are you kidding me??? As you say, they start quoting me too!
I could cut the rebars myself but geez, why bother if the young kids will do it for free. Also, the rebar is cheaper there than HD and HD doesn't have 20' ones either.

Jax, I would have loved to see that guys face when you told him it was your metal hula-hoop, LOL

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Pooch, not as bad as what I said to the male customer with a closet dowel rod he had at the HD cutting station. He found it hilarious.

When I run out of money for rebar, I can fall back to my stash of bamboo stakes.

I betcha heavy-gauge bonsai wire secured to the top of the rebar could take care of extra length. It's very flexible and strong.

Thanks, all!!!

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Daisey, I asked a kid ONCE to cut some PVC pipe for me. He said "That will take FOREVER!". I went to the front desk, and I got my PVC cut fast and free!!!

Would good bolt cutters do on the rebar?

Speaking of PVC, my dentist has bird feeders outside his exam room window, so we unfortunate souls can watch the birdies as we get our gums stabbed with metal picks ("Does that hurt?"). Anyway, he has completely foiled all squirrels by simply sliding PVC pipes around the bird house poles. The PVC moves when the squirrels jump on it, and it sends them flying!

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)


Skip any thoughts of bamboo for dahlias -- it won't hold them after July, to my surprise! Do you grow lilies (Lilium)? Save the bamboo for the lilies.


Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Illoquin, the red lilly beetle set up housekeeping in my yard a few years ago, and destroyed every single true lilly I grew. It got to the point that the lilly flower wasn't even fully developed before the critters destroyed it! I dug up and tossed all the lilies that weren't already dead, hoping that the little buggers will move on or starve.

I had a feeling bamboo wouldn't do it; not even in tripods? With a finial?

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Jax, I think no on the heavy duty bolt cutters question. The rebar is just too thick. Hacksaw worked fine. Requires no pulling to start! Just elbow grease.

I think Pitimpanai had a photo of her tripod of bamboo working well for her dahlias in big containers.

Beachwood, OH

In the spirit of invention, I've used the long orange snow stakes as dahlias stakes for container dahlias on my deck. All the dahlia stakes I looked at were too tall and would have been too top heavy for containers. Once all the foliage starts growing in the stakes are lost in the leaves. I'm using 60 gallon containers. DH is happy as long as I wipe them off and hand them back when fall clean up comes. It's saved having yet another thing to clean up and store for the winter.

I have a question for my dahlia friends ( fiends? ) here. Where is a reasonable place to buy about 20-25 tubers? I'm going to really try this year to curb my apparently genetic tendency to buy more than I have room for. Last year I made the same promise and it didn't work. But this year its going to be different....

I've only bought mail order dahlias from one grower and they didn't work out very well - I'm not sure they all had eyes. Or it could have been my perennial problem with either coons, skunks or possums tearing up my newly planted tubers at night. The ones I got from the dahlia grower had that organic garlic powder stuff on them as a fungicide and it must have really attracted the critters. Anyway not one of them grew and that kind of put me off using mail order for tubers.

P.S. I'm hopping around the net and found a place on San Juan Island in WA that has all tubers for $4.00ach. Will have to check the Watchdog

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

alyrics, I posted asking about Red Hawk Dahlias. They were having a huge $1 and $2 tuber sale! I ordered $43 dollars worth... maybe I bought everything? No one here had ever purchased a tuber from them, and there was speculation that perhaps they were damaged tubers from the PNW floods. I decided it was worth the gamble. If only half of the tubers work out, that means I'll have spent an average of $3 per tuber- still pretty good!!!

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Hi Alyrics,
Aside from Redhawk already pointed out, this is one of the most reasonably priced sellers I've run across. But I've not purchased from them. Has anyone here?

You can check out a whole bunch of dahlia dealers here, and don't forget to check the Garden Watchdog for feedback.
I haven't ordered from this gal below either, but I've talked to her on the phone- does that count? Her prices seem reasonable too. Prices have gone up even since last year all across the board. Several new suppliers listed too.

If you have a Dahlia Society/Association near you, you might watch for sales in your area come March or April. This site is not yet updated, but soon should be. You can get some nice flowers for a good price.

Nipomo, CA(Zone 8a)

I have had the best luck with PVC pipe. When it is grown and in bloom you can't see the pipe. This year I am going to paint one or two green just to see how it looks.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

What width PVC? I actually have some. It's reeaaally ugly.

Marquette, MI(Zone 5a)

I was hoping some one would mention PVC pipe. I'm going to try it this year, do you think 3/4 OD will do it?. There is that special paint made especially for plastic. Line them up and spray. Sounds good in theory.
I hate it when wooden stakes rot at the soil line and fall over mid-summer. We had been purchasing some fiberglass posts that do a good job but at about 2 bucks a stake X a gazillion tubers-YIKES

Langley, WA(Zone 7b)

Alyrics,what was the name of the place on San Juan Island? I live sorta near there so am curious.


Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

I just found 6' GREEN bamboo stakes at $2.50 for 6. That is cheaper than anything, but if it doesn't work, it doesn't matter! They are pretty. I bought 2 packs and will experiment making tripods. Between that and rebar, I may have it covered financially. I could ask for 100 6 ' rebar stakes for my birthday... hard to wrap, tho'...

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

alyrics, I forgot that your tendancy to plant more than you have room for is not a genetic disorder but a disease. I have it, too, only mine is not limited to what I have room for. I plant more than I can care for, afford, or even plant easily. One year I got up at 5 AM to garden for three hours before going to work! It is more of a mania, I think. I hope the mental institution has a sunny plot for planting dahlias. That's where DH is going to send me and my tubers!!! I have 4 of the most shriveled of my tubers soaking in plastic cups next to the kitchen sink; he will not be pleased when he gets up.

Lexington, MA(Zone 6a)

Last year was my first year for Dahlias. A workmate gave me tubers that she has had in her family for 90 years! I had always been turned off by the storage issue but had to give it a try. Of course I loved every glorious minute of their long-lasting and late-summer beauty. My gift dahlia in question (pictured below) grew to nearly 8'! Talk about a support issue...rebar looks like the ticket. Of course I'm praying the tubers survive storage on the attic steps; first year for that, too.
Thanks for the tips.
Anyone know what this beauty is????

Thumbnail by GardenerGardner
Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Is that one of the 90 yr old varieties? Here are some of the oldest dahlia cultivars around, but the closest to your wonderful pink is "Jersey Beauty." But the petals don't quite look the same shape.

What's the temp on your attic steps?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Wouldn't big fat bamboo stalks, just cut, work to hold up dahlias?

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Can you drive a fresh cut bamboo stalk into the ground? (I don't know how solid they are never having grown bamboo.) How do you think they'd hold up in the hot sun over a period of months? And ditto with at least weekly watering affecting the underground part? That's what seems to rot my wood stakes after a few years- they always break near the soil line.

Anything is worth a try I guess. Maybe you can do an experiment with some, and let us know how it works this summer?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I will. Even if they only last three years I can then turn them upside down and get another three years out of each one.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

SCORE! I went to our town's recycling center this morning (better known as The Dump) and I found a pole lamp someone threw away! It's just a really lovely black, hollow metal pole that is about 6' high! The base has 4 little tab-like feet that will anchor in the soil. Cool! I love freebies. Now I need to find about 40 more...

I was going to remark that orange driveway stakes would be too expensive, but hey-- they are all over the place for free!!! I was particularly attracted to the ones around town hall... LOL!!! I could paint them and no one could ID them...hee, hee!! My passion for dahlias is going to turn me into a felon!

Pooch, I've never grown bamboo either, but they sell them so cheap at the garden centers. They are stronger than wood, and don't warp, and last forever. I have my irises staked, and will use them on my glads. Since they are very light weight, I have a feeling a dahlia would pull them out of the ground. They are ideal for adding support for wayward branches, though; I keep a supply on hand for supporting various plants that need a little help.

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

The first year I grew dahlias I used bamboo stakes. I won't use them again because, like Jax said, they aren't strong enough to hold the weight of a full grown dahlia. Many of mine fell over that year. I also broke the tops of them when I pounded them into the ground and they rotted at the soil line like Annie said.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I think we're talking about two different strengths of bamboo. I'm talking about the really super strong kind that's about three inches in circumference.

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

Yep, that's much bigger than the ones I bought. I don't think I've ever seen those for sale at the place I usually go to. Guess I need to get out more! LOL

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I haven't seen them for sale either. They were offered to me by someone who has a mother loaded with bamboo and she loves having her son cut it down for her.

Willamette Valley, OR(Zone 8a)

Lucky you! :o)

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

It works two ways: we give him all his tomato and pepper plants each May.

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Pirl, that's a perfect solution: turn them up side down. I think of "cane pole" when I think a fresh bamboo stake. Not the little thin 1/4 inch wide green ones- I use those all over for other plants and nearly poke my eyes out every year with them, but a big old one-inch-thick cane pole we used to fish with as kids. Those might hold a dahlia. Some of the bigger plants end up taking two or three stakes strategically tied to each other to hold the mightier plants up from September onward. Even 2-3 rebar or fence posts.

Jax, if you hustle up any more unique dahlia stakes they're going to rename your property Lamp Post Acres! Or, if you go after the town hall stakes: Felony Acres. You'll be known as the Felon on the Hill. What IS an orange driveway stake anyway? Do you put them up to keep the snow plows away from your yard borders? What are they made of?

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Pooch, the stakes at town hall are some sort of plastic composite; bendy but doesn't break. The police station is next to town hall-- they had lots of stakes up, too. The cost about $2 at HD. I use the 99 cent cheap white ones with reflectors b/c they're just going to get plowed over and squashed.

I'm afraid my yard is going to look like the Beverly Hillbillies moved in!!! Well, I got rid of the bike and skateboard on my "patio" today, at least. I saw in one of this season's garden magazines where someone somehow got moss to grow all over a bike, then hung plants from it. Pul-eez!!! I don't care if it's covered in roses, it's still a bike!

I have a couple of the 1/2" diameter bamboo poles that are deadly tough, but I forget where/when I got them and how much they were. Bamboo certainly is natural and pretty for the garden, better than stolen plastic sticks and an old lamp!!! LOL!!!

I had a thought in how to secure large bamboo stakes-- the cheap tiki torch metal spikes!

Beachwood, OH

Gwen - sorry so late. You asked a few days ago about the name of that grower on San Juan Island - its San Juan Dahlias at http://www.sanjuandahlias.com/

I'm going to check out Red Hawk. I don't even reallly care so much this year if the dahlias are named, I just want a nice assortment of healthy tubers.

Albany, OR(Zone 8a)

Jax, good for you finding that lamp post.
I used some old metal fence posts last year for my dahlia tree since it was to get up to 10-15' tall. They work just fine and they looked okay. Had my son cut off a part so I could pound it into the ground.
So whatever you find that is strong enough, go for it. I am going to be hunting all over too besides my rebar. I figure that the plants hid the stakes most of the time so who cares what they look like.
As for those bamboo stakes. I have seen the big ones Pirl is talking about. They sell them at the farmers market but are quite expensive. They should work great tho.

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