The Q&A Archives: Young Dahlias Eaten

Question: Every year i plant a couple rows of annual dahlias bought in flats from the local nursery..They do fantastic all summer long, everything does great in Long Islands' fertile soil. However, when just planted (about 3 inches high), they seem to be getting eaten by something...This stops after a few weeks and about $20 worth of spray.This year I would like to plant some but the thought of spraying constantly turns me off..You have any idea whats eating them? I think it might be slugs...Your opinion???

Answer: Unfortunately, I am not sure what would eat baby dahlias like that, although slugs are certainly a possibility. If so, you will see slime trails as evidence because the slugs work at night. There are commercial baits available, they can be trapped, and they can be hand-picked and dropped into soapy water. Another possibility is a critter such as a woodchuck or bunny. You might be able to repel these using a home-made garlic/red pepper spray or a commercially formulated animal repellent. Without knowing what the pest is it is a bit difficult to be specific but with a little observation maybe you can figure out what is doing the damage. Good luck with your dahlias!

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