Links on how to grow dahlias

Here are links to 2 great resources on cultivating dahlias:

SWAN ISLAND DAHLIAS: http://www.dahlias.com/howtogrowdahlias.aspx

FLORET FLOWERS: https://www.floretflowers.com/resources/how-to-grow-dahlias/


lee's notes on growing dahlias

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS I'VE FIGURED OUT ALONG THE WAY:

GET YOUR SOIL FERTILITY RIGHT!

#1!!! FEED YOUR SOIL. THE MOST CHALLENGING CLASS I TOOK IN COLLEGE WAS 'PLANT NUTRITION'. MY PROFESSOR LITERALLY WROTE THE BOOK AND I STILL FREQUENTLY REFER TO IT OVER 20 YEARS LATER. HE TRAVELLED THE WORD CONSULTING LARGE FLOWER FARMS AND GREENHOUSE VEGETABLE OPERATIONS AND MADE THE VALID POINT THAT IF YOUR NUTRIENTS ARE OFF TO BEGIN WITH, YOU WILL NOT REALIZE THE CROPS FULL POTENTIAL. 

BOOK INFO: HARRY A MILLS, J. BENTON JONES, JR 1991 PLANT ANALYSIS HANDBOOK II (REVISED 1996) MICROMACRO PUBLISHING ATHENS, GEORGIA

IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF WHAT YOUR SOIL NEEDS, GET IT ANALYZED THROUGH YOUR LOCAL AG EXTENSION AGENCY. AMMEND AS NECESSARY. DAHLIAS PREFER RICH WELL DRAINED SOIL. THEY ARE HEAVY FEEDERS. 

HERE'S AN EXAMPLE: MY AREA SOIL IS COMMONLY DEFICIENT OF PHOSPHORUS. PHOSPHOROUS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR DAHLIAS AND IF THEY LACK IT, SHORT PLANTS & STEMS AS WELL AS OFTEN MISFORMED FLOWERS RESULT. PHOSPHOROUS IS NOT MOBILE IN THE SOIL AND THE SUPPLY OF IT NEEDS TO BE CLOSE TO THE ROOTS. THEREFORE, THE 'DIG A HOLE AND STICK IT IN' METHOD, RATHER THAN TOP DRESSING, IS IMPORTANT.

TOO MUCH NITROGEN WILL RESULT IN ABUNDANT GROWTH OF FOLIAGE AND FEWER FLOWERS.

EVERY REGION DIFFERS IN SOIL STRUCTURE & FERTILITY, GROWING CONDITIONS SUCH AS LIGHT, HUMIDITY AND TEMPERATURE. IT IS UP TO YOU LEARN ABOUT YOUR GARDEN'S PARTICULAR NEEDS! WHEN I AM PREPPING MY SOIL, I LIKE TO COMPARE IT TO BAKING A CAKE: ADD ALL OF THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS, AND IT WILL RISE TO IT'S FULL SWEET POTENTIAL. IGNORE IT, AND YOU GET A FLOP. 

SOMETIMES IT TAKES A COUPLE OF YEARS TO REALLY GET THE HANG OF GROWING A PARTICULAR PLANT. THE GOOD THING ABOUT DAHLIAS IS THAT THOSE TUBERS REPRODUCE. DIG AND DIVIDE IN THE FALL AND YOU WILL HAVE PLENTY MORE FOR THE NEXT SEASON. YOU WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO TWEAK YOUR GROWING METHODS YEAR AFTER YEAR.

PLANTING:

I MAKE LONG BEDS ABOUT 4' WIDE AND THEN DIG LONG ROWS OF TRENCHES SPACED 18-24 INCHES APART. DROP TUBERS IN 1-2 FEET APART DOWN THE ROWS. MAKE SURE THAT TOU ARE PLANTING DAHLIAS THAT HAVE SIMILAR GROWING HEIGHTS TOGETHER OR THE TALL ONES WILL CROWD OUT THE SHORT ONES AND YOU WON'T GET BLOOMS ON THE SHORTIES. I START AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BED WITH THE TALLEST AND WORK MY WAY UP DESCENDING IN HEIGHT AS I GO. THIS ALSO HELPS WITH YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM.

SUPPORT THOSE THINGS!:

IF YOU WANT STRAIGHT STEMS, YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE SUPPORT- EVEN FOR THE 2' SHORTIES. I USE 4' WIDE HORIZONTAL NETTING PURCHASED IN ROLLS FROM JOHNNY'S SEEDS. YOU CAN USE IT YEAR AFTER YEAR. SINK IN T-POSTS IN PAIRS 4' APART EVERY 8' DOWN THE BED. ROLL OUT THE NETTING AND EITHER SECURE IT DIRECTLY INTO THE POSTS OR USE ZIP TIES. MAKE SURE THE NETTING IS TAUGHT BUT NOT TO THE POINT OF BREAKING THE MATERIAL. AS THE PLANTS GROW, YOU CAN MOVE THE NETTING HIGHER FOR THE PLANTS UP TO 4' OR ADD A SECOND LAYER FOR THE TALLER ONES.

DON'T LOSE TRACK OF WHAT YOU ARE PLANTING!:

-MAKE A HAND WRITTEN GRAPH WITH EVERY TUBER YOU PUT IN THE GROUND AS YOU GO. COLLEGE RULED NOTEBOOK PAPER WORKS GREAT. TAKE A PICTURE OF THOSE GRAPHS BECAUSE THEY WILL GET WORN OUT AND YOU WILL PROBABLY LOSE THEM IF YOU ARE LIKE ME. WHEN I HAVE TIME, I MAKE A COLOR CODED EXCEL SPREADSHEET GRAPH FOR EACH BED SO I REALLY HAVE A LASTING RECORD. 

-WHEN THEY START TO BLOOM, I WIRE ALUMINUM TAGS WITH THE NAME TO THE BASE OF EVERY PLANT. THE METAL TAGS ARE CHEAP AND NEVER FADE. THIS COMES IN HANDY WHEN YOU DIG YOUR TUBERS BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE A NICE MAP, ONCE THEY ARE OUT OF THE GROUND, THERE IS NO WAY OF KNOWING WHAT IS WHAT. WHEN I'M DIVIDING, I PUT THE TAGS IN THE BUCKETS AS I GO. THEN, I PACK THE DIVIDED TUBERS IN BLACK PLASTIC NURSERY POTS WITH COARSE VERMICULITE AND WIRE THAT METAL TAG TO THE BUCKET (POKE A HOLE IN THE EDGE)

-I HAVE INVESTED IN WOODEN RUBBER STAMPS FOR EACH DAHLIA VARIETY AND YOU TUBERS WILL BE STAMPED WITH THEIR NAME WHEN YOU GET THEM. THAT STAMP INK WILL STILL BE ON THE 'MAMA' TUBER WHEN YOU DIG THE CLUMP IN THE FALL (UNLESS A VOLE ATE IT)


Usda Plant hardiness zone map

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW TO VIEW THE PLANT HARDINESS ZONE MAP. YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS FOR PLANTING AND SHIPPING INFO.

http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/