How to grow Dahlias
When the weather warms up and settles, gardeners everywhere say “Let’s plant dahlias,” knowing there is no more colorful flower for the grounds, none better for cutting and exhibiting.
The exact planting date depends on the locality and season. Dahlias planted too early can be set back or be stunted by a cold, wet spring. Often, if planted too soon, tubers rot in the ground before growth starts. Really, tubers should be planted late enough to bloom when night become cool again.
The best soil to plant them in is a well-drained loam rich in humus. Manure can be added to heavy clays to break them up; rotted manure, compost or leafmold to light, sandy soils to build them up.
And since dahlias grow tall, they must be supported. Bamboo tonkins or square dahlia stakes—6 feet tall for large varieties and 3 to 4 feet tall for the smaller00should be inserted into the ground 18 inches before tubers are planted. Inserting stakes into the flower bed before planting eliminates danger of damaging tubers and roots.
A good way to stake plants grown in rows or beds by themselves in to drive a heavy wooden post, 2 inches in diameter, about 2 feet into the ground at the beginning and end of each row. A piece of galvanized wire is then strung between the posts about 5 feet above the ground. Next, 8-foot bamboo tonkins (smaller for smaller varieties) are inserted into the ground along the row at 3-foot intervals and fastened to the wire. Plants staked thus cannot be broken or destroyed by winds or rain storms very easily.
Spacing is important. Large show varieties must be spaced 36 inches in each direction to give plants plenty of room to spread in and the gardener enough room to care for them comfortably. Pompons and miniatures should be spaced 18 to 24 inches in each direction. This applies to plants grown in rows as well as those grown in annual or perennial borders.
After stakes are ready, holes spaced in
accordance with the directions given above are dug 8 inches deep. A
shovelful of rotted manure or compost plus a handful of bonemeal and
one of a complete fertilizer are put into each hole and mixed with the
soil in it thoroughly. An inch of soil is placed over the fertilizer
so that tubers will not come into direct contact with it.
Then tubers, with the sprout next to the stake, are set in the holes and covered with only 2 inches of soil. As growth develops, the hole is filled with more and more soil until, finally, the tuber is covered with 6 inches of soil. When roots are well below the surface, the dry heat of July and August cannot wilt plants too much. Their roots will be moist and cool.
Holes are prepared the same way for green plants raised from seeds or cuttings. After the two lower leaves are removed, plants are set in the holes the same way too. Lower leaves are removed so that that protection of the stem from which they are cut off can be located below the surface of the dahlia bed and thus be forced to make new breaks or shoots. This method safeguards plants from cutworms and accidents. For if they are broken, new shoots will come through and the plant will not be lost.
Where new or sodded areas are being prepared
for the first time, cutworms are often a problem. The best way to protect
plants against them is to put a paper or cardboard collar around each
one when setting it out. The collar should extend at least 2 inches
below the surface of the ground. Cardboard cylinders around which wax
paper is wrapped make efficient collars.
Through June, to prevent the ground from drying out and baking, the soil around the plants should be cultivated frequently, especially after a rain. At the end of June, dahlias are ready to be pinched and tied.
Here are some other great tips for growing flowers:
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Tips for growing flowers:
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