Short on growing space but want to grow dahlias? This comprehensive guide empowers you to cultivate stunning dahlias in pots. Discover the right pot size, sun needs, feeding tips, and expert techniques for endless blooms. 

If you’ve got limited growing space but still want to grow beautiful showy blooms, this post is for you! Today, we are talking about just that with one of my favorite flowers too!

Dahlias, with their flamboyant blooms in a kaleidoscope of colors, can transform any space into a vibrant oasis. They make beautiful cut flowers and are pure joy to grow.

But what if you lack sprawling gardens to grow them? You can totally grow dahlias in pots!

Whether you have a small balcony, deck, or patio, this guide will empower you to cultivate these showstopping flowers in containers, bringing life and color to even the most compact corners.

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Selecting the Perfect Pot For Your Dahlias: Size Isn’t Everything

Choosing the right pot is crucial for happy dahlias. Drainage is key: opt for pots with several large holes to prevent waterlogging, which can rot tubers. While plastic or resin planters provide good drainage, consider the pot’s weight in addition to its size, especially for taller dahlias. Because a lightweight pot can topple over in very strong winds.

Picking the Perfect Pots

Where potting is concerned, not all dahlias are created equal. For an easy care approach to growing dahlias in pots, check out dwarf dahlia varieties that don’t need staking. Compact plants, like the ‘Duet’ series or the ‘My Love’ series, flourish in containers, reaching only 18-24 inches tall and smothered in blooms. If you go with a dwarf variety, a minimum of 12-15″ would be a great size to choose.

Last year, I grew Dalina Grande Cancun and Dalina Grande Mendoza which looked spectacular in the zen garden. I loved how the different shades of pink flowers looked against the stone wall.

While dwarf varieties are a great option, you can grow taller dahlia varieties too. Just choose a larger container size to accommodate the roots and height of the blooms. Choose no smaller than 15″ pot size to accommodate the tuber, root system, and eventual plant height.

Dalina Grande Mendoza Dahlias by proven winners, snapdragons and colocasia

My Favorite Dahlia Varieties That Grow Well in Pots

While I tend to grow more of my dahlias in the ground or my raised beds, I’ve grown a few in pots as well. Here are some of my favorites to try!

  • Eveline
  • Karma Lagoon
  • Kogane Fubuki
  • Edge of Joy
  • Jowey Winnie
  • Cafe Au Lait
  • Thomas Edison
  • Labrynth
dahlia fleurel with white flowers and dahlia labrynth with peachy orange flowers in the cut flower garden
Dahlia Fleurel and Labrynth

How to Plant Dahlias in Pots

Growing dahlias in pots is a popular option for gardeners who have limited space or want to add a burst of color to outdoor living spaces where planting in the ground is not feasible.

For best results, here’s what you need to know about planting dahlia tubers in containers.

  • Choose a clean container with a diameter of at least 12 to 16 inches and a depth of at least 12 to 18 inches. Make sure the container has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape and prevent waterlogging.
  • Use a well-draining potting mix. Feel free to add perlite, vermiculite, or sand to the potting mix to improve drainage.
  • Plant one dahlia tuber per container, positioning it horizontally with the “eye” or bud facing up then cover the tuber with about 2 inches of potting mix.
  • Maintain your containers in full sun with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Rotate them periodically to ensure even sunlight exposure on all sides of the plant.
  • Remember that containers dry out faster than plants in the ground, so it’s important to water potted dahlias regularly. Check the soil moisture level with your finger or a moisture meter. Avoid overwatering and allow the top inch of soil to dry out slightly between watering.
  • Fertilize dahlias with a balanced slow-release or water-soluble fertilizer formulated for flowering plants and follow the package instructions for application rates and frequency.
  • Stake or cage plants to provide support as they grow, being careful not to damage the tubers or roots during the process.
  • In colder climates, dahlias will need to be dug up and overwintered indoors if you want to enjoy the following season.

Planting Dahlias in Containers Before the Last Frost Date

If you want to get your dahlias going before the last frost date, you can pot them up and try to pre-sprout them for faster blooms much sooner. This is great for impatient gardeners like myself!

Simply place the tuber in a pot with damp potting mix, eye facing up, and keep it warm and well-lit. Once sprouts appear, harden them off outdoors before transplanting them into your container. Keep in mind that the soil should not be soaked or the tubers will rot. For that reason, I wouldn’t water them until they get outdoors.

Vibrant dahlia thomas edison flowers and fountain with green arbor in the cut flower garden
Dahlia ‘Thomas Edison’

Growing Dahlias in Pots: A Recipe for Lots of Blooms

Dahlias need full sun to grow, thrive, and bloom. This means they’ll need 6-8 hours of full sun to give you lots of continual blooms. So make sure you site your potted dahlias where they will receive that kind of light.

While dahlias love consistent moisture, avoid soggy soil, particularly in cooler temperatures. Water deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry, allowing excess water to drain freely. The frequency will depend on pot size, climate, and drainage.

Keep in mind that the quality of your soil will determine if and when to fertilize dahlia flowers. If you add a soil amendment like aged manure, fertilizer is not needed when you plant the tubers. However, if composted materials like pine bark, leaf mold, peat moss, or something similar are used, then add about 1/4 cup of balanced fertilizer per plant.

To fuel continuous blooms in pots, it’s important to feed them with a balanced fertilizer. I love using a slow-release fertilizer for a set-and-forget approach with a bloom booster to help my potted dahlias flower all season long.

dahlia 'urchin' with purple pink flowers
Dahlia ‘Urchin’ Flower

Supporting Tall Dahlia Flowers: Staking for Strength

Not all plants need support but many large dahlias need help so the weight of the flowers don’t cause it to fall over.

For those that require additional support, you can use:

While I generally don’t like using bamboo plant stakes for my dahlias in the garden, they are fine to use in pots where you only have one tuber. Add the stake when you plant your tubers so you don’t risk piercing it later.

As your dahlias reach for the sky, staking becomes crucial. Use sturdy stakes made of bamboo or metal, taller than the expected height of your dahlia variety. Gently tie the dahlia stem to the stake using soft plant ties, allowing room for stem growth.

variety of vibrant dahlia flowers in a colorful cut flower garden
Different varieties of dahlias in a colorful cut flower garden

Pinching, Cutting and Deadheading for Endless Blooms: A Snip for Success

While your dahlias begin to grow, it’s important to pinch them back when they reach about a foot tall to encourage a bushier, branchier habit. This will help produce more flowers on your dahlias.

Removing spent blooms, known as deadheading, encourages your dahlia plant to produce even more flowers. Simply snip off the wilted flower head just above the next set of leaves with a pair of garden snips or sharp pruners. This redirects the plant’s energy towards producing new blooms, extending your floral display.

In addition to deadheading, cut your dahlia flowers to use in bouquets too as this encourages the plant to produce more flowers.

Underplanting Ideas for Dahlias in Pots

Since dahlia tubers take some time to sprout, grow, and bloom, your pots might look a bit boring for a while. Why not underplant your dahlias with some summer flowering annuals that will add interest and spill over the edges of your planters to pretty them up? Here are some planting ideas for your potted dahlias.

  • Bacopa
  • Lantana
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • Scaevola
  • Calibrachoa
  • Petunias
  • Trailing snapdragons
  • Lobelia
  • Nasturtium

When planting them, make sure you don’t damage your dahlia tuber. Plant flowering annuals with lots of care around your dahlias!

dahlia jowey winnie flowers with pink flowers

Overwintering Your Dahlias in Pots (For Warmer Climates)

Live in a frost-free zone? You can enjoy your dahlias for multiple seasons! After the first frost, carefully dig up the dahlia tuber and cut the stems back to a few inches. Brush off excess soil and store the tuber in a cool, dark, and frost-free location (like a garage or shed) in a breathable container filled with slightly damp potting mix. Come spring, you can then repot and start the growing cycle anew.

Conclusion

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to growing breathtaking dahlias in pots. Remember, consistent watering, regular feeding, and proper support are key ingredients for their success.

For more information about growing dahlias in pots, please check out:

dahlia cafe au lait at sunrise in a cut flower garden
Cafe Au Lait Dahlia Flower

More About Growing Dahlias in Pots

Have you ever grown dahlias in pots before? What varieties do you prefer to grow in them? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

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dahlia kogane fubuki in a vibrant cut flower garden
Dahlia Kogane Fubuki

Garden Supplies I Use for Dahlias

Since I’ve been gardening for well over twenty-five years, I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. Here are some of my favorites that I use in no particular order.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

Click here to shop my favorite garden supplies!

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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

Want to learn more about me? I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

stacy ling cutting dahlias in her garden

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