Garden Notes

Planting Dahlias

2005 November 4
by mike

Planting Dahlias

I’ve pulled up a raised bed’s worth of ground cover with the thought of planting dahlias there in the spring. I’ve been doing a bit of research on planting tips and came across an informative site, The Garden Helper. Here’s what their page on dahlias had to say:

Dahlias should not be planted until all danger of frost has passed, and the soil temperature reaches 58-60 degrees F. Excessively wet soil may cause the tubers to rot, so if your weather has been wet and stormy, you may want to wait for a drying trend.

Dig and prepare a 12 inch diameter by 12 inch deep planting hole. Mix a shovel full of compost, a handful of bone meal, and a little Dolomite lime to the soil which was removed.

Fill the planting hole with the soil mixture until it is about six inches deep. Then place the tuber horizontally in the bottom of the hole with the eye pointing upward. Tall varieties will need staking, so this is a good time to set an appropriate size stake into the ground next to the tuber (near the eye). This will prevent damage which can result if it is added after the tuber has begin to grow.

Cover the tuber with about two inches of your soil mixture and water thoroughly. When the sprout begins to emerge from the soil, gradually add more soil mix until the hole is entirely filled. Once the plant attains sufficient height, secure it loosely to the stake. (I recommend using a length of an old nylon stocking because it will stretch as the plant grows, rather than cutting into the stem, as string will do.) Add more ties as the stem grows until the plant is supported approximately 24 inches below the eventual top of the plant.

A Dahlia in bloom is a heavy feeder, so you may want to consider using a water soluble “bloom type” fertilizer about a month before the plants begin to bloom.

Dahlias which have been started in pots may be planted in the prepared hole following the same procedures you would for any other perennial plant.

That sounds a bit fussy compared to what I’ve done with garden over the past year, but after seeing what a year of near neglect does, I’m ready to get my hands dirty in the yard again.

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