Watering Dahlias

Dahlias are a beautiful focal point in any garden. Across all the different cultivars, water requirements are essentially the same–once you master one, you’ve mastered them all! Their care and water requirements may seem a little tricky, but with these tips you should have happy and healthy dahlias all season long.

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How To Tell If Dahlias Needs Watered

Dahlias are native to Mexico and sensitive to overwatering. In their native environment, they receive water in a dump and drought pattern. Their tubers are so susceptible to root rot that overwatering is a common problem for dahlia cultivators. Signs of overwatering include limp or blistered leaves. When Dahlias are thirsty, you may notice dry, cracked, and/or yellow leaves. Blooms may also fail to open when Dahlias are under-watered. You don’t want to keep your Dahlia constantly moist, but if the soil is dry around your plant, you should water. 

How Often To Water Dahlias

Transplanting Dahlias into the garden is probably the most critical time for overwatering to occur. Usually when we’re adding plants to the landscape, the advice is to give them a good soak to ease the stress of transplantation. With young Dahlia plants, this may introduce the perfect conditions for root rot. Make sure the planting site has good drainage, and moisten them lightly after planting. Make sure to keep moisture off the leaves if you can, as this will help prevent foliar diseases. 

Depending on the climate and soil, you should water your established Dahlia 1-3 times a week. Use the dump and drought method: soak the soil at the base of your plant thoroughly and then let it dry out almost completely before you water it again. The timing will vary based on environmental conditions, but once you’ve figured out your climate and what your Dahlias like, they’re easy to care for.

Potted Dahlias may need significantly more water than Dahlias planted in the ground. Plant roots in pots are much more susceptible to temperature, water, and nutrient stress. This isn’t something to be alarmed about though. Potting substrate dries out and loses nutrients more quickly than ground soil. Upon potting, water the Dahlias well. Ensure your pot has drainage, so the plant never sits in an overly moist environment. Once the plant is established, check the soil; if it feels almost dry, soak it! 

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Best Time To Water Dahlias

Dahlias can be perennial plants in tropical climates; anywhere else, they are technically annuals. They are mid- to late-summer bloomers, thriving in heat and intense sunshine. The best time to water your Dahlias would be in the early morning or evening. This will ensure most of that water is absorbed by the roots, not evaporating under the summer sun. 

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How to Water Dahlias

Step 1 - Check the soil around the base of your Dahlia plants. 

You want to wait until the soil around your plant is almost completely dry so as to not overwater.

Step 2 - Water around the base of the plant. 

Don’t be afraid to really soak the soil–remember, dump and drought! Water until the soil is thoroughly moist. 

Step 3 - Observe and correct if necessary. 

Are the leaves limp or blistered, or did the blooms burst before opening? You may have overwatered your Dahlia. Do you see yellow, cracked and brittle leaves? You may be underwatering. Learning what your individual plants need is an important lesson in gardening!

Dahlia Watering Tips

  • Learn from your plants and your climate 
  • Don’t be afraid to let them get a little thirsty
  • Remember the signs of over- and under-watering 

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Author Chris Link - Published 01-24-2023