When it comes to growing Dahlias there are two main ways people usually grow their plants, either by planting tubers or by sowing seeds. But what are the differences between these two methods and which is best?
What Is The Difference?
The main differences between growing dahlias from seed and tubers is firstly the cost and then secondly the type of dahlia grown.
Growing dahlias from seed is much much cheaper than buying and growing tubers. A pack of seeds can cost as little as a couple of dollars and give hundreds of plants.
Tubers on the other hand can cost $10, $15, $20 for a single tuber, or sometimes even more! So with this is mind you may ask why anyone would ever buy a tuber and not just always grow dahlias from seed.
The answer to this is actually pretty simple, and once you are aware of it then it becomes clear why dahlia tubers are really popular.
Dahlia tubers do not grow true to seed. What this means is that seeds taken from a Dahlia will not necessarily produce dahlias that look anything like the parent plant.
So if there is a certain color of Dahlia that you want to grow then you have to grow it from a tuber or from a tuber cutting.
Growing from seed is a lot cheaper but it is also pot-luck as to what exact Dahlia you will grow.
If you want an exact Dahlia, say a cafe au lait, then you will need to get a tuber. These specialist dahlias are grown from cuttings and are a clone of the parent plant.
Which Is Best, Seed Or Tuber?
This is a question that I cannot answer, it comes down to your individual circumstances and preferences. If you absolutely love Dahlias then it may be worthwhile starting to build up your own tuber collection.
If however, you are just looking for a pop of autumn color then you are probably better off growing some from seed.
Another factor to bear in mind is your own gardening experience. Growing dahlias can be tough, they need special care when compared to other plants. If you aren’t prepared to dig up the tubers and store them over winter then you may lose the tuber for good.
So if you are a novice then I would recommend growing your dahlias from seed, at least at first. You can use these as practice plants and once you have some experience you can move on to growing the more expensive tubers.
If you just want the best-looking dahlia possible then you will have to grow it from a tuber as seed-grown varieties tend to be more generic.
Then there is clearly your budget, if you have deep pockets and don’t mind spending on your garden then go ahead and buy plenty of tubers. But if you are on a strict gardening budget then growing from seed is many times more affordable.
What Do Dahlias Grown From Seed Look Like?
I’m glad you asked, I have some photos from my garden of my own Dahlias grown from seed this very year. Bear in mind that these Dahlias will now develop tubers of their own and will come back year after year.
The flowers are smaller in the first year but will get bigger as the tubers develop over the years.
You can see that there is a range of Dahlias here and that lots of different types can be grown from seed. You can select the type of flower head you want your dahlias to have when growing from seed but not the color, they will always be sold as a “mixed color” pack. Beware of unscrupulous sellers on marketplaces selling seeds for specific cultivars, this isn’t possible!