Dahlia alternative...?

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by ricky101, Dec 20, 2021.

  1. ricky101

    ricky101 Total Gardener

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    Hi,

    We have a small boarder, running N to S that we normally fill with Dwarf Dahlias (from seed) that give a grand display from late June through to the first heavy frosts in late October /November.

    Have tried most of the dwarf varieties but looking for a change next year, but getting a bit stuck as to what can compete with them for such a prolific display of flowers.

    Tried Pelagoniums in the past but they do need a hot and long summer to look good and only about half the size of the dwarf Dahlias.

    Any suggestions welcome ... ?
     
  2. flounder

    flounder Gardener

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    Ha!
    this last year, I went opposite to you. dahlias instead of begonias and fuchsias.
    I normally stay with b. semperflorens but I tried some x tuberhybrida....these things get messy when they drop their flowers....there is a LOT of flowers!
    Another problem with begonias, you have to start from seed whilst the christmas lights are still up.
    There is a plus though, slugs leave them pretty much alone
     
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    • ricky101

      ricky101 Total Gardener

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      Hi @flounder ,

      Thanks , but we have B.Semps , Fuchsias and Heucheras in an adjacent border so really need something different.

      Did think about the Tuberous Begonias but they do seems better suited to pots or baskets where they can cascade down.
      When in soil, as you say, they can look rather messy , more so if its a wet summer.

      The little B.Semps, we usually buy a 3" pot full of seedlings from a local garden center in late March and they soon grow on.
       
    • pete

      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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      How about a mixture of half hardy annuals

      Maybe Zinnias, antirrhinum, marigold, must be lots of others in the seed catalogues.
       
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      • JWK

        JWK Gardener Staff Member

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        How about Sunpatiens, they are like the bedding impatiens only on steroids and don't suffer with diseases like downy mildew. They get pretty big, comparable to dwarf dahlias and don't need deadheading. Can't be grown from seed though. I overwinter cuttings instead.
         
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        • Tomcat

          Tomcat Gardener

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          How about Cosmos , or Osteospermums .
           
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          • DMM

            DMM Gardener

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            I like JWK's suggestion of sunpatiens ...... may go for those myself! However ricky101 hope you don't mind me hijacking your question with another. Is it easy to grow the dwarf dahlias from seed please? Where do you get yours from? I really, really want a dwarf/gallery dahlia display in my pots for 2022 [after a disaster a few years ago when I ordered gallery dahlia tubers and none of them were gallery at all so, even though beautiful, they were far too large for my small space!]. I'd love and appreciate a little insight on how they are to grow from seed. Was going to buy tubers again but wary of them being non compact ones I receive yet again!
            Thanks very much
            D
             
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            • ricky101

              ricky101 Total Gardener

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              Hi @DMM,

              We have grown several varieties of the "Dwarf" Dahlias which typically go to about 45cm tall, but they are still quiet compact and bushy and do not need staking like the bigger types.

              Not grown the "Gallery" ones but they seem to be sized at around 30 to 40cm.

              Have kept some of our excess Dwarf ones in pots and you can get a good display from one plant, though the bigger the pot the better the plant usually is.

              The keynote to good flowering seems to be a weekly feed with Tomato fertilizer or similar and regular dead heading.

              They are very easy to grow, big seeds, we use those large multi cell trays 3x5 or similar which you just add one or two seeds per cell and just give them a warm place in late March and they are off very quickly and can stay in those cells almost to planting out size, but better if you can pot them on into 10cm+ pots once they fill the cells.
              Would avoid starting them off any earlier unless you have a greenhouse with heating and lights, they like to keep growing fast.

              As they always seem to be mixed colours, growing them on in pots allows you to see the colour and place them where you want.

              A web search does show some places selling "Gallery " seeds but our Dwarf ones are sold virtually anywhere from places like the Range, Wilco, B&Q to the usual seed suppliers like Kings, Suttons etc etc.

              Hard to say which have been best, but the Unwins Mixed were compact with lots of good colours.
              Search Results | A leading supplier of vegetable seeds in Essex, UK | Grow your own vegetable seeds - kingsseeds.com

              These Bambio look good and compact -
              https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Dahlia-Bambino-Mixed-Seeds

              At such low prices you could try a few varieties.

              hth
               
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              • DMM

                DMM Gardener

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                Just home from work and read your response ricky101 .... thank you soooo much. All that info definitely helps, is really useful and much appreciated :ccheers:.
                I am definitely growing some from seed then for sure! I didn't realise they were so easy and am all excited now about next year ....especially after following the links you provided. I do love dahlias but as I mentioned, the regular sized ones I was sent after actually ordering gallery tubers online a few years back were just way too big for my space. Beautiful but just too large.
                You're right too, at the price of the seeds I can try out a few varieties which I fully intend to do.

                Have you decided yet what you're having instead of dahlias? .... or still waiting for the suggestion that makes you go 'yes'! that'll do it!?

                Thanks again for all the info.
                I'm going dahlia seed browsing online now :spinning:
                Deborah
                 
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                • pete

                  pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                  I've not grown the bedding type Dahlias for a number of years but did used to grow a type called "collarette" , always had some good flowers.
                  This last summer I tried a taller seed strain and to be honest they were a bit of a let down, more leaf than flower and very few semi doubles.

                  Something I remember from years ago also when it comes to pricking out seedlings.
                  The strong growing ones are often not the best colours of a mixed strain.
                   
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                  • ricky101

                    ricky101 Total Gardener

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                    Hi @DMM,

                    Have not decided on an alternative to the Dahlias , yet , so hard to beat !

                    Have not grown the Bambinos but they do look nice, might get some as we use them in other parts of the garden.

                    Out of the several dwarf varieties there are some quiet fancy ones like the Colarette Dandy that @pete mentioned, Harlequin and the Cactus ones, but found none of them had as many flowers as the slightly plainer types, though that could have just been that seasons weather ?

                    Have ordered tubers before, but you generally start them off in the greenhouse and when the first young shoots come up, you take them off as cuttings to make some more plants, so they seem no quicker or easier than seeds.
                    Their main advantage is that they should make bigger plants in the first year, but for smaller pot grown ones, still think seeds the better route.

                    Just worth a mention , the Bees go mad for them, though even when dead heading they do not seem aggressive.
                     
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                    • DMM

                      DMM Gardener

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                      I ended up ordering the Bambino and Figaro from Fothergill's. For now anyway. That will probably be enough for my space to be honest but I won't be able to resist ordering more too I'm guessing :smile:
                       
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                      • ricky101

                        ricky101 Total Gardener

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                        Though tempting, suggest you do not sow any until mid March as doing so too early can result in very leggy plants, better to grow them in stronger Spring light.

                        A bit of bottom heat usually gets the seeds sprouting in just over a week.

                        We try and pot some of them on into 4" or 5" pots to try and get them to grow bigger and show their flower colour before we plant them out into the garden soil, planting mixed ones before any buds/flowers means you can get too many of the same colour planted together.
                         
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                        • CanadianLori

                          CanadianLori Total Gardener

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                          Oh, I love this thread. I have only ever grown one of those big Dahlias from a root thingie but these dwarf ones sound wonderful. I've just inked it in to my seed order. And no I won't sow before Mid March. :)
                          Thank you!
                           
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                          • ricky101

                            ricky101 Total Gardener

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                            Don't think you can go wrong with them, we usually have a border with a single row of 12 or a double row of 24 and they are just a mass of flowers all summer and autumn long with masses of bees, more so if you go for the single or semi double types.
                            Just give the Dwarfs enough room, about 300mm apart, plus they need dead heading at least once a week , preferably twice, to ensure the flowers continue.

                            Do you have any noticably different Dwarf types to our uk ones ?
                             
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