Dahlia Seed?

Winamac, IN

My friend gave me some of her dried up Dahlia's knowing I collect seed. She doesn't know, and neither do I, can Dahlia be grown from seed? I always see bulbs for them. If they grow from seed, how long does it take for them to bloom?

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I grew some Dahlia from seed by winter sowing them last winter. They were from a commercial seed packet of Dahlia Unwins Mix. The picture shows a couple of them with some annual Rudbeckia.

The cool thing (to me) is the number of tubers that the plant formed; I was cleaning up some containers this weekend and found one.

Joanne



Thumbnail by Grow_Jo
Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

And here's the tuber....will be interesting to see if I can successfully store it this winter...(following Poochella et al's directions, of course ).

Thumbnail by Grow_Jo
Winamac, IN

Well then that's awesome because I don't have any Dahlia and these are the Double Extreme Cultivar. Absolutely beautiful!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Dahlia seeds are also sold by Park's Seed Co. and even some dahlia places online. I've grown and just loved the Unwins. Where did you buy them, Grow Jo?

Last year I just brought in the tubers, still in the pots, and had my best success keeping them that way over winter. They all bloomed their little hearts out and they're still giving me flowers. What's not to love? No staking either!

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Hopefully one of the Dahlia experts pops in to give an opinion as to whether or not Dahlias grown with collected seed will be true to the parent, cuz I sure don't know....!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Even if they don't come true I'd just like to know if it's worth collecting the seed heads.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

pirl, I was given the seeds by a member of our local hort. society; the seeds are from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds.

The funny thing is that they are meant to be a mix of colors, but all of the ones I kept for myself were yellow, and all of the ones I gave away to friends were purple. I will definitely winter sow them again; and I've got my eye on some of those from Park Seeds for sure...

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thank you so much!

I think it's also Park's that carries the seeds for the Collarette (low, but not as low as Unwin) dahlias. Enjoy and thanks again.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I have my eye on "Bishops Children" Dahlia seed from Parks (has that fabulous dark foliage) AND the collarettes. No idea where all these plants are going to go, of course, but I'll worry about that next spring. ;)

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Order first: worry later.

I have the Bishop of Llandaff and today as I cut off the spent blossoms and seedheads I just let them fall with fingers crossed but I'd love to know if I should be saving them - not much time left and very few buds on that one are left to open.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Oh, Boy! I get to be an expert here!!!

The dahlias most emphatically do NOT come true from seed. Maybe it make a difference, and maybe it doesn't, because the ones I grew from seed were gorgeous. There is a rule of thumb, a sort of umbrella statement I read once that said "if you grow even one single dahlia, then all the seed from all the dahlias, including doubles, will yield singles. Double petals must be a recessive trait.

The Bishop's Children was what I sowed this year and the best ones were 40" tall, needed no staking and bloomed their heads off until just a week ago. I only had a few red ones, and a few with dark foliage. The rest were bright pinks, pinks and whites and coral oranges. I had one gotgeous dark purple.

On sowing the seeds: They might take 7 days to germinate, and grow slowly the next week, but after that, they grow faster than Zinnias or marigolds. I had to keep raising the lights because I sowed them too early. They like warmth in the soil.

All in all, I highly recommend them!

Suzy

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

My new motto: "Order first: worry later." LOL.

Thompson & Morgan Seeds have even MORE Dahlia seeds....


http://www.tmseeds.com/list/d.html

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

The seeds will generally not come true to the parent plant. That's how we get new cultivars of dahlias: one parent is pollinated by another, seeds form, and with luck, something desireable results. Genetic expression is the other factor on what a bloom will bring with yellows, reds, and oranges being the dominant genes according to one grower/hybridizer.

Every year our dahlia society sells seeds to have a seedling contest. They are grown in members' gardens and then prizes are given in September for the seedlings with 'most promise' and 'ugliest' traits etc.

Pirl, the advice I had this summer was to keep the seed heads from getting too soggy, so you might want to pick them up and keep them under cover. But you are in drier country than the NW and that may not be a concern.

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

I would agree on the untrue seedlings. The closer they are to the original dahlias(singles) the better or closer they should be to the parent I believe.

I have grown 2 kinds of seed from T&M, they were really easy and flowered about the same time as tubers.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Thanks Suzy and Poochella!

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

So...it's possible then that portiaraylee will be able to germinate the Dahlia seed she has, but the flowers will not be like Double Extreme Cultivar, they will likely be a single form? Did I understand this correctly?

Joanne

Appleton, WI(Zone 5a)

Were those the original seeds from T&M or kids from them? No, I wasn't implying that they all revert to singles.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Grow Jo -- Not sure. Sorry. I was just repeating somehitng I heard, and there have to be single dahlias present for it to be true (if it's true at all)

Suzy

Winamac, IN

So they may or may not be double, then? I hate this hybrid stuff :). I am not even sure if that was the exact cultivar...... is it possible to be double and produce double flowering seedlings? There are doubles that aren't hybrid, right?

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

All dahlias that you are likely to run into are hybrids. We're not talking marigolds or lilies where the ploidy is recent; dahlias have been hybrids, from what I gather, for over a century. (Yes , you can still get species, but even the most lowly cheapie seed is likey to be hybrid.)

Also, if it caught your eye, it probably didn't have a big bare spot in the center, another indication that, yes, they were hybrids.

The ancestry of dahlias is among the most complex in the flower world, and there are a lot of variables beyond the double vs non- double, or pink vs white, that you are thinking about. If what the person was telling me is correct, and what I was told about the seed that Swan Island sells is correct, then single flowers is a dominant charasteristic over double flowers. In English, this means the chances are greater for the seed to yield a single flowered plant than a double. "Chances are" is not the same as "it will not be", or "it will only be". That's why there are flower hybridizers -- to find the one in 20 or one in a million fantastic plant.

Based on the above, anything is possible from your seed. It depends on the ancestry of your pod parent, and the other dahlias from your garden and those within pollinating distance, and their ancestry.

Do you know what good dahlia seed looks and feels like? It is shaped sort of like a boat oar, and will freely skate across a plate without making a "findgenails on a blackboard sound". It is not flabby or bendable. Throw those out. If they are ragged, even a little, it actually means they germinated in the pod. You can't leave podson the plant indefinitely. Throw those away. Then there are little stick-like things in there, so get rid of those. There might be some very rough-to-the touch seeds, too. They are heavy, but they feel very bad to your fingertips -- like sandpaper. Worse than sandpaper. These are bad seeds, too.

To clean dahlia seed, get a big shallow bowl and put in the seeds and chaff and just rifle through it outside on a windy day. You will be down to viable seed and those stick things in minutes. You have to pull the seeds out by hand from there,. but it's a simple process and gives you a final way to determine if the seed is viable.

To harvest dahlia seed this late in the season, you might find "milking the pods" helpful for keeping them dry enough they can ripen. And dry enough they dont't germinate in the pod after you bring them in to the warmth. You milk each pod one by one with a downward pulling motion, yes, like milking a cow. I was astonished by how much liquid is in one pod! I would say it shaves off 2-3 days for pod ripening and at this time of year, when frost is imminent, those 3 days could be critical.

My final thought is this: If you found a dahlia you love -- you love the shape, the color, the plant habit, then why aren't you digging and storing the roots? Share them with your neighbor (by making her share them with you).

Seed is iffy, but a tuber is forever. LOL!

Suzy

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks for all the help, everyone. I think I'd rather buy seeds than save any from the Bishop. I do like that dark foliage in back of the daylilies.

I've tried telling people seeds may produce a plant that looks like the parent but it's not the clone of the parent as the expanded tubers would be and yet people won't believe it.

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

I've had that happen, too -- where they believe seedlings will be a copy of the pod parent.

I sometimes run classes for master Gardeners and Garden Clubs on daffodils, and I liken seedlings to their families. If they have children, are the children copies of them? No. Their husband? No. Are the children copies of each other? No. If they had a family photo taken, would an outsider be able to tell they were all one family? Maybe. Probably. And then I explain about sexual vs asexual propagation because daffodils are usually propagated asexually, which means they are clones. But new, better varieties are usually found through seed.

Suzy

Winamac, IN

So then, this goes for the cactus Dahlia also? Because my friend's babysitter has some of these (seeds again) that she is willing to give me. I am not one to turn down free seeds, and if they bloom at all, I will be happy. So, if I take these seeds from this double, plant them, and they come single, with the seeds from the singles produce singles or is there a chance for the seeds from the singles to produce doubles? Lol, this is getting crazy.....

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

My daughter has red hair and it came from her grandfather since her dad and I both had blond hair that turned brown in our teens. The thing about dahlias -- and probably other plants, humans, dogs etc., and is that you can get genes from way back, ggrandparents and further back than that. The double gene is recessive, but it could alwyas come back in later generations -- like a Widow's peak, attached ear lobes or double jointedness. :)

If you keep a record of the photo of the flower you're getting seed from, then take a photo of all the flowers you get from that pack of seed, I think it will become very clear just how crazy they can be.

Suzy

Winamac, IN

That's what I was figuring! Lol, so no matter what type of Dahlia seed you get, unless you can follow it back, there is no 100% guarantee on what you will get..... Like I said, I'll be happy with the bloom :)

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Well, then, I bet you'll be really happy. I was astonished that my seed grown dahlias grew faster and bloomed earlier than my tubers, even than the tubers I started inside under lights! I saved the seed from some that were especially awesome for trades, but I am digging, storing and keeping the tubers because I want those exact same plants next year.

I'm sure you'll be very happy with what you get, and anything that is malformed or an ugly color can be pulled up and tossed, right?

Suzy

Winamac, IN

Lol, right! Yeah, once I start getting tubers, I will definitely keep them too, unless I decide to use them for a trade ;)

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

Suzy, you are indeed the head mistress of seed instruction! While cutting and hauling dahlia stalks today I kept my eye out for seed pods and such. Many are soaked through and through with earlier rains and close to rotting, so it's probably too late for me. I did practice my milking skills however LOL.

Here is one article by the HY hybridizer, Wayne Holland, for those interested.
http://www.members.shaw.ca/hydahlia/Pollinate.html

One of the best photo records of seeds I've found are at Wynn's here:
album "dahlias and stuff" page 3 begins the saga of the seeds. Those people have an astounding record at breeding winners. Good stock, good teacher, good soil, and persistence has paid off with their many beautiful new dahlia cultivars.
http://groups.msn.com/DahliasStuff/seedlings.msnw?Page=3

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Ah, but Pooch, you know everything else about dahlias --- you don't need to know about seed! I only know about seed because I am so abyssmal at growing them from tubers. And staking. HORRIBLE! Notice how I didn't tell anybody about my actual "real" dahlia growing experiences? But by gum, I can grow Bishop's Children from seed and keep them alive and upright the whole season!

Isn't it weird how much liquid is in those pods? I am waiting until the last minute tomorrow -- the day of our 1st hard freeze/frost to harvest from Giggles -- a Collarette single. It will be the only dahlia-from-tuber I was able to get seed from, if indeed I am sucessful.

How long a stem are you looking for on your cut flowers? I want to do some measuring tomorrow, but I don't know what the target stem length should be. I didn't cut one dahlia this year!

Suzy

Winamac, IN

Somebody got a picture of one of those wet pods? Or even a dry one...

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Here's one, but it's not a real good picture. Look in the center of the photo, at the bottom of the plant, and you'll see upside down cone-shaped teardrop thingies. Those are the green pods. You can pick them as soon as the centers turn sort of brown and cripsy. You can maybe pick them earlier -- I know they continue to ripen, but I also know they have to be at a ccertain stage or beyond for it to work. I'll let you know in a week if they continue to ripen from the really green stage as shown in the photo.

Suzy

Thumbnail by Illoquin
Winamac, IN

Ok, I thought I was either stupid or crazy because with all this 'Milking out the water' talk, I was lost. The pods I got were all nice and dry and brown and crispy. :) They looked like the picture but there was no 'milking' involved.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I was showing my daughter how to milk them yesterday. She was amazed!

Indianapolis, IN(Zone 5b)

Yes, that does happen, but as the autumn comes, the metabolism slows down and they take a longer time to ripen. (That's what I have seen here, at least.) Longer than in Aug-Sept, I mean. What can happen if the weather is warm, the pods are wet inside, and the seed germinates in the pod. If you milk them, the seeds don't have the moisture they need to germinate and they also get brown and crispy faster.

This milking is a thing for the super-crazed dahlia person, I'm pretty sure.

Suzy

Issaquah, WA(Zone 7a)

There is nothing brown and crispy dry here. More like supersoaked and soggy-slimy. Yuck. I'm still keeping my eyes open for seed pods though, just for fun.

There isn't a firm guide for stem length Suzy. Some of the poms only get like 10-12" stems late season; other varieties are more like 2 ft with 16-18 being an average, I'd guess. Just depends on how you groom them. I use a lot more of the taller buckets than short ones when cutting.

Back to digging- 3rd day in a row with blue skies: it's a miracle!

Winamac, IN

Speaking of digging, I have to get my spring bulbs in the ground!! Is it too late for zone 5? I don't think I have a choice now, do I? I dug up my tulips, hyacinths, crocus, daylily, asiatic lilies, and......I think that's all.....anyways, I have to get my tulips, hyacinth, and crocus back in. Do daylilies need to be stored? They come back every year right? I have about 5 different kinds, but I wanted to move them so I dug them up, now I am wondering if it is safe to put them in their new spot now. Oh, I had to dig up my glads too....LOTS of bulbs upstairs!! Oh, I got three types of bulbs from Rural King clearance rack, and it doesn't say when to plant, suggestions?
Chinonodoxa
Anemone
Allium

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Portia,
I'm in Zone 3 and I was still planting bulbs last weekend. Darn those sales!! I can't resist.

Alliums you should plant in the fall; what kind of anemone do you have? Don't know Chinonodoxa. Daylilies you leave in the ground; they don't need to be dug up and stored.

Joanne

Winamac, IN

The anemone were purple, there was no cultivar name, I looked. Is there just a common anemone? Anyhow, my husband says things will be fine if we just do it this weekend. I hope he's right!

McLean, VA(Zone 6b)

This thread has so much good information that I'm sure that someone can answer a couple of questions for me about Dahlia seeds. I've never grown Dahlias because I don't like lifting tubers or plants in the fall. This summer I grew caladiums, but I didn't want to take them out and store them.

If I plant seeds, will they eventually grow into tubers or are tubers different from seed dahlias? Also is there any real advantage to using tubers over seeds? Final question, do the tubers multiply?

Thanks.

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