Dahlia bulbs.. how to plant and how long for first growth?

nina_leeApril 6, 2010

I bought some dahlia bulbs from Lowes, I searched online and had no idea how to plant them, I've never used bulbs before. It was one big center bulb with about 6 little tubers (not sure if that is the right term) shooting off. A lot of the tubers fell off before i could get them in the ground, I went ahead and planted anyway. I had no idea what was the top and what was the bottom, if the tubers should be laying horizontal or sitting straight up???

Also, how long does it take for them to spring up? I am in southeaster virginia and it has been in the 70s and 80s the past 2 weeks (with lows in the 50s) and I planted about 2 weeks ago!

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I just went into lowes and see that the dahlias there all already have growth and the bag I had bought had zero growth in it. it was seriously just a bulb and dirt, so I will be returning that and buying a new one that looks alive!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 9:22PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

I hope they came with a label indicating expected height! If you bought something that's going to grow up to six feet high you also need to add in a tall stake 'now'. Sturdy, please, because your dahlia will throw up a lot of stems.

If you already grow potatoes - same sort of soil and conditions: good soil that holds moisture but doesn't stay soggy; good sunlight, and some wind shelter for tall plants.

So long as you don't get late frosts in your area - about a month before the first 'innocent' sprouts show through.

When they start flowering - keep them dead-headed. Take off the finished flowers. It's easy to tell the difference: buds are round and finished flowers are pointed. When you do, check further down the stem to where it branches and you'll likely see more small buds forming.

If you don't mind the seedlings - leave the heads to go brown and rustly, falling apart as they age. The seeds are slight and papery. They won't come true from seed but you can get some interesting results. It takes about a year before the tuber gets bigger than, say, a golf ball.

If you don't get hard frosts that actually freeze the earth for days (more like little surface crispies) then you can leave them in the garden for over winter. Just cover over with a good helping of compost and trim off the frost-smitten stalks to keep the garden tidy.

If you do get killer frosts - lift them just after the first frost has turned the foliage to mush, shake off most of the dirt, leave them in a dry no-freeze place to dry off and put them where you won't forget them next year. Beware of mousies, earwigs and sowbugs while they're stored. They don't eat much...The tubers should be fine if the wounds can dry off before replanting.

PS usually plant them flat like a hand. As you got a clump there would have been something looking like a central stalk. That way is 'up'.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 9:38PM
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