What Do Dahlia Sprouts Look Like? A Guide to Identifying Dahlia Seedlings

Dahlias are one of the most popular summer-blooming flowers for gardens. Their huge, showy blooms come in a stunning range of colors, shapes, and sizes. Dahlias can be grown from tubers or started from seeds. When growing dahlias from seed, it’s exciting to watch the seeds sprout and seedlings emerge. But what do dahlia sprouts look like at various growth stages?

What Dahlia Seeds Look Like

Dahlia seeds are actually contained in small, slender seed pods that are around 0.5 inches long. The seed pods are easy to split open to collect the seeds inside. Dahlia seeds themselves are quite small, about 1-3 mm long or about the size of a pinhead. They may be various colors from brown, tan, gray, or even blackish. The seed is somewhat flattened and oval shaped.

How to Start Dahlia Seeds

To grow dahlia sprouts from seeds, start the seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your last expected spring frost. Plant them 1⁄8 inch deep in seed starting mix. Keep the soil moist and warm at 70-75°F for the best germination, which takes 1-2 weeks. Once sprouted, move seedlings under lights and pot up into larger containers once roots fill the cells. Grow the dahlia sprouts on until all danger of frost has passed before transplanting into the garden.

What Dahlia Sprouts Look Like When First Germinating

Once planted, dahlia seeds will take between 7-14 days to germinate and send up their first sprouts At first, you’ll just notice the soil beginning to shift slightly as the radical (root) emerges from the seed Soon after, the tiny shoot will emerge.

Young dahlia sprouts are quite small and delicate when they first pop up The stem is thin, no more than 2-3 mm thick The oval-shaped cotyledon (seed leaves) are around 5 mm across. They may emerge upright or laying sideways on the soil. The stem and leaves will be pale green or even yellowish in color at first.

Dahlia Sprout Growth After 1-2 Weeks

In the first week or two after emerging, dahlia sprouts put on rapid growth. The stems lengthen and start to become more upright. The cotyledons expand in size. The first set of true leaves begin to unfurl at the top of the stem. These leaves are opposite each other and are distinctly separated by length along the stem.

By two weeks old, dahlia sprouts will have stems about 2.5-5 cm tall. The oval cotyledons are 1-1.5 cm across. The first pair of true leaves are smaller, around 0.5 cm long, with a narrow and pointed shape. More sets of leaves continue to form as the sprout grows taller.

Dahlia Seedling Growth at 3-4 Weeks Old

At 3-4 weeks after germination, dahlia sprouts take on even more growth. Stems rapidly lengthen, becoming 5-10 cm tall or more. The stems are slender but toughening up. Leaves enlarge to 1-3 cm long and develop a more defined shape with distinct veins visible.

More vertical distance develops between leaf sets along the stem as it elongates. Smaller leaves emerge from the top while lower leaves continue expanding outward. More branching may begin lower on the stem.

Dahlia Seedlings at 5-6 Weeks Old

By 5-6 weeks of growth, dahlia sprouts are well established young seedlings. They have the appearance of a miniature dahlia plant now. Stems are 10-15+ cm tall and toughened. Leaves are larger, 2-5 cm long emerging from the stem. They may begin to show the distinct dahlia leaf shape, which is bipinnate or fern-like.

The young plants have filled out the cells or pots with a mass of leaves and numerous side shoots emerging lower on the stems. Some early varieties may begin to show small flower buds at the stem tops, though most don’t bloom until after transplanting to the garden.

Young Dahlia Plants Just Before Transplanting

After 8-10 weeks of indoor growth, dahlia sprouts have matured into young dahlia plants ready to be moved outdoors. Stems reach 15-30 cm tall for smaller types or up to 60 cm for larger varieties. The plants appear bushy with many leaves and side shoots.

The young plants have a distinct dahlia appearance at this point. Leaves are medium to dark green, 5-10 cm across, and doubly pinnate with many leaflets emerging from the central petiole. Any early flower buds are larger. Flowering types can be determined once they bloom.

Transplanting Dahlia Sprouts into the Garden

Once all danger of frost has passed and soil has warmed, the young dahlia plants can be moved into the garden. Transplant them 18-24 inches apart in a sunny location with enriched soil. Keep well watered. Most dahlia seedlings will begin flowering 60-90 days after transplanting. Deadhead to encourage more blooms until frost.

Common Problems with Dahlia Sprouts

Growing dahlia sprouts does take some care. Here are some potential issues to watch for:

  • Damping off disease – avoid overwatering seedlings. Improve airflow.

  • Leggy, weak stems – ensure sprouts get enough light. Move lights closer or use grow lights.

  • Slow growth – could indicate improper temperature or watering issues. Optimal temps are 70-75°F.

  • Failure to sprout – dahlia seeds can have low viability. Start extra seeds to ensure enough sprouts.

Follow the tips above for the best results sprouting dahlia seeds and growing the seedlings into beautiful, flowering dahlia plants for your garden!

What Do Dahlia Seeds Look Like?

Dahlia flower seeds are brown to black and about half an inch long. They are stored in a seed pod. These slender seed pods are easy to split and can be collected after the dahlia flowers dry out. Read Seed Saving 101: Saving Seed for Next Year’s Garden to learn more about how to save your own seeds.


My favorite way to water is from the bottom up. This way, the soil can act like a sponge and soak up the water without moving the newly planted seed. I prefer to use 1020 trays underneath my pots and cell trays when starting seeds. After putting about an inch or eleventh of an inch of water in the tray, I let the soil soak it up. After about an hour, I drain off any extra water. You do not want your soil to be too soggy, so it is important to drain the excess.

Bottom watering also saves time and keeps your seedlings from getting damp spots or other damage. Check out Bottom-watering Seedlings and Microgreens for more information on the method.

When the seed is first trying to germinate, you will want to make sure the soil is moist. Dry soil will prevent seed germination and stunt or kill off a tiny seedling. If the top layer of soil stays dry, you can wet the very top layer of soil with a fine mist spray bottle while the seeds are sprouting.

Dahlias: Taking Them Out of Storage + Pre-Sprouting! // Garden Answer


What does a dahlia sprout look like?

They also both get little “eyes” that sprout into the next year’s plants. A dahlia eye is small, and usually just looks like a little bump. Once an eye becomes more developed, it becomes easier to see. At that point, it will be green, red or purple, depending on the variety.

How long does it take a dahlia to sprout?

A greenhouse, hoop house, or sunny windowsill are great places. It typically takes about two to four weeks for dahlias to begin to sprout up out of the soil. So start this process between five and seven weeks before when you expect to be able to plant them outside.

What to do when dahlias start sprouting?

Once your tubers have shoots, make sure they receive strong, adequate light, just like seedlings need. Without it, your dahlias will grow tall and spindly and suffer transplant shock when placed in the garden. Now the hard part, being patient while the weather slowly improves and summer arrives.

Where do dahlias sprout from?

You can buy dahlia plants at the garden centre in summer, but many gardeners grow them from tubers. These are potted up and brought into growth indoors in late March or early April, then planted out in the garden in May once no more frost is forecast. Dahlias can also be grown from rooted cuttings and from seed.

Do dahlia tubers sprout?

With the right conditions, dahlia tubers will sprout and produce beautiful flowers that will brighten any garden. When it comes to getting dahlia tubers to sprout, the key is to start the process in the early spring when the soil temperatures are between 50-65F.

What are radish sprouts?

Radish sprouts are germinated radish seeds that have just begun to produce leaves. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and mineral salts, and have remineralizing, antiseptic and diuretic properties, which are also useful in preventing asthma.

How do you know if a dahlia is growing?

Avoid planting dahlia tubers that appear wrinkled or rotten. Pink “eyes” (buds) or a little green growth are good signs. Plant large dahlias and those grown solely as cut flowers in a dedicated plot where they will be free from competition from other plants.

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