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Are Dahlia as easy to grow/sustain as Zinnia plants

March 19, 2012

Dear Garden folk

I'm planting a new bed for friends. I know if I plant Zinnia (as established plants) they'll live through almost anything...especially hot and dry. But I�m thinking Dahlia might be fun but I'm not sure how they�d stand up to the same elements. I'd be starting the Dahlia as bulbs

Thoughts and Thanks!


Comments (16)

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    they are pretty heavy water suckers .... especially the big ones ... so i will probably depend on which type you are thinking about ... might want to expand in that regard ...

    i doubt you can equate them with the rather bullet proof zinnia ...

    so it would depend on water plus soil ... and mulch.. etc ...

    and in your zone.. they would need to be dug up in the fall and stored indoors ... or planted as an annual ...


  • Maxine

    Let's see,,,the'yre called 'Fire Pot'. per the instructions they should be planted in April and should bloom Summer to Fall
    Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
    18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
    18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
    does that help?

  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL

    I would never choose dahlias over zinnias because with dahlias you plant the bulbs and wait FOREVER for a few flowers. With zinnias, you scatter seeds and in about 6 weeks you start getting masses of flowers that last for months. And the cost - pack of 50(?) zinnia seeds = $1. Pack of about 4 dahlia bulbs = $5. No contest.

  • Maxine

    i'm sold!! thanks!

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    well it seems like you are all set ...

    but in my world.. IF IT WAS MY OWN GARDEN .... i would experiment ...

    but i dont think that it was wise for the friends garden ...

    do you think you will try one in your own garden????

    good work.. taking care of the friend ... it should bring them joy ... and a GOLD STAR FOR YOU!!!


  • zen_man

    Actually, it is possible to grow dahlias from seed. That is how they get new varieties. You get 50 seeds in a packet of Bishop's Children for $2.95. That is about 6 cents a seed -- not bad. I've paid more for zinnia seeds. There are several other seed varieties of dahlias at Parks, and other seed companies offer seed-grown cultivars of dahlias as well.

    I seriously considered dahlias when I was making up my mind about what flowers to breed as a hobby. I thought I might cross some of the seed-grown dahlias with some of the bulb-grown dahlias and save seeds from bulb-grown ones and save bulbs from seed-grown ones. Dahlias seemed to offer a lot of possibilities for the amateur flower breeder.

    Cannas were also on my short list, because they come in many forms and colors and have seed-grown cultivars as well as "bulb"-grown cultivars. I settled on zinnias primarily because they were so fast to multiply, and had such a variety of forms and colors and cultivars. But there are plenty of choices out there for anyone who is interested in experimenting with breeding their own flowers.

    (not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)

  • mandolls

    Yes you have to dig the tuber in the fall, but then you divide them and have more the next year. I have only purchased maybe a dozen tubers over the years, but now through divisions and trading I have about 150 tubers of 30 different types waiting for spring planting. Zinnias are nice. Dahlias are magnificent! (see photos I posted in the cut flower thread here).

    Three Dahlia blooms can easily have the impact of two dozen zinnias. (and they dont get powdery mildew, which I cant seem to avoid with zinnias)

  • Maxine

    I've grown Dahlia from bulbs before and they were spectacular but if I remember correctly, I started them way earlier than now and dug them up as annual (I don't have storage for bulbs). I tried Dahlia seeds last year and did not produce a bumper crop. As far as established plants go, and I am going to use established plants, I think Zinnia will hold up the conditions a non-gardener would provide more so than the Dahlia


  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL

    Well, as if to mock me, a big pot on my front porch all year that "revolves" as plants die and I stick new things in, has dahlia foliage poking up in the middle. Can't believe I didn't slice it adding various stuff the past few weeks. Probably an anomaly due to the lack of winter, but no zinnia could ever do that. So there's that! If it grows another flower this year, I'll have to start calling it the $2.50 flower instead of the $5 flower.

    mandolls, bravo to your efforts! And I totally agree with everything you said, mildew & all. Taking the foliage into consideration, zinnias will never win the beauty contest. If budget is not a problem...

  • mxk3

    If I had to choose, I'd plant zinnia. No question.

    Now, dahlias are gorgeous flowers but they require dead-heading to produce well, and even then flower production can be iffy IME. I've had dahlias produce a fair amount of blooms and other times very few. I've started dahlias from tubers in the past, and one year it took until end of July or so to see any flowers, even though I did pot up the tubers a few weeks before planting out and kept warm under my light cart. One advantage dahlia have over zinnias is more attractive foliage IMO - if grown well, they are lovely, bushy plants with healthy deep-green foliage that is attractive in its own right (note I've only grown the shorter cultivars, so my experience is based upon the growth habit of the shorter varieties).

    OTOH, zinnias bloom their stinkin' heads off and don't require much in the way of tending - though I prefer to deadhead, if I don't get around to it, the zinnias bloom beautifully anyway. In a word - they are joyous :0)

  • ladyrose65

    I grew 3 packs of dahlias from seed last summer. Beautiful flowers, spreads like crazy; however, I had a time trying to get the bulbs out of the ground in the fall. I'm still find bulbs. I'll take the Zinnias.

  • HU-786935867

    Hi everyone, I'm new to the discussion. I have bright yellow Zinnia in my garden, planted in May of this year. It grew 36" wide by 20" tall during the Summer. Today, I started digging out the dead plant and found 20 well form ,cream color bulbs. As far as I know, Zinnia spreads through seeds.I never had Zinnia before. Can I berry the bulbs back in the ground ( it is below 30 F) or I have to winterize them ?I never new that Zinnia can form bulbs,and don't know how to winterize bulbs.

    Can someone give me a helpful advice , please?

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    Zinnias don’t form bulbs. They are annuals. Whatever you have found they’re not Zinnias. I suggest you start a new thread since this is a new topic and provide photographs of these bulbs. Try the Name That Plant Forum or the Bulbs Forum.

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    if they came out of the ground.. they can go right back in the ground ...

    they are fully hardened off to the situation ... its not like they have been in a warm store and you want to slam them into cold ground ...

    ID would really help you ... went went dormant ... before you spread the Z seeds??? .. one of the spring ephemerals???

    also.. anuuals dont spread ... they reseed ... just to clarify word choice ....


  • rob333 (zone 7a)

    They're both water suckers. But, in my experience, my clay soil is kinder to the zinnias, so dahlias are harder for me to grow. I have to watch for rotting. I agree, they take too long to see blooms.

  • Paul MI

    Annuals like zinnias will almost invariably out perform a perennial in the bloom department. Perennials have to hold back some resources in order to have the energy to come back the following year. Annuals "go for broke" precisely because they only have that one season to reproduce.

    Personally, I have had issues with dahlias and powdery mildew, so it is not as though they are immune.

    Overall, I prefer the colors and forms of dahlias over zinnias (though I do enjoy zinnias) and dahlia foliage is far more attractive but I would say that zinnias would be a better choice for a non or new gardener. They are generally easy growers and prolific bloomers putting on a very nice display.

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