How to Grow Dahlias Down South

“How do u get dahlias to grow?  I just get two scrawny limbs that never a bloom.” Question from April of Dresden, Tennessee

Answer: That must be frustrating! Southern gardeners often struggle with dahlias, unless they live in mountainous areas where summers are cooler. This is because most dahlias grow best under milder growing conditions and melt in high summer heat. Thankfully, there are select varieties tolerant of southern heat.

Either way, let’s start with the five basics that dahlias need to thrive:

1. Full to partial sun (6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day.)

2. Organic-rich soil with good drainage (Amending soil with Black Gold Garden Compost Blend helps!)

3. Fertilizer formulated for flowers (Proven Winners Continuous Release Plant Food works great.)

4. Regular water (Soil should be kept just moist, never too wet or dry.)

5. During really hot weather, shade dahlias during the hottest time of day

Then there’s choosing the right dahlia. The Dahlia Society of Georgia has the best list of heat-tolerant dahlias for southern gardeners (click here to view the list). My favorite dahlia on their list, called ‘Bodacious’ (shown above), has big, beautiful red and creamy yellow blooms.

Follow these growing instructions and choose only heat-tolerant dahlias from the attached list, and your dahlia growing will really improve! We also suggest you watch our video on Dahlia growing. It provides even more in-depth instructions on how to make the most of your dahlia growing.

Happy gardening! Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

Leave a Reply

Content Disclaimer:

This site may contain content (including images and articles) as well as advice, opinions and statements presented by third parties. Sun Gro does not review these materials for accuracy or reliability and does not endorse the advice, opinions, or statements that may be contained in them. Sun Gro also does not review the materials to determine if they infringe the copyright or other rights of others. These materials are available only for informational purposes and are presented “as is” without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. Reliance upon any such opinion, advice, statement or other information is at your own risk. In no event shall Sun Gro Horticulture Distribution, Inc. or any of its affiliates be liable to you for any inaccuracy, error, omission, fact, infringement and the like, resulting from your use of these materials, regardless of cause, or for any damages resulting there from.