The Q&A Archives: Dahlia

Question: Have had no luck w/my dahlia; the blooms dropped off and it looks sickly.

Answer: You didn't give us too many clues to go on so I'm not sure we can diagnose the problem with your dahlia. In Georgia, dahlias need at least 6 hours of sun a day and more is better, up to 10 to 12 hours a day. Late afternoon shade is OK. Dahlias must have well drained soil. Add lots of compost to the soil prior to planting and replace your Georgia clay if you can with a better type of soil mixed with peat and/or sand. Mulching is very important when growing dahlias in the South. These plants come from the warm days and cool nights climate of the mountains of Mexico
and not the hot days and the not very cool nights of Georgia. Dahlia feeder roots run
only about 1? under the soil and can extend out from the plant up to 2? in all directions. You can ompensate for your heat by growing heat tolerant dahlias and mulching your plants with at least 2? of a good mulch that will let the water
through and keep the roots cool so they will grow during the heat of the summer. Make
sure you follow this step and put the mulch down by the first of July.

Dahlias like a lot of water but do not like wet feet so again make sure the soil is well drained. Water about once a week unless dry and make sure it is a deep
watering. Do not water the foliage as that will encourage mildew and fungus problems.

Are you deadheading or disbudding? Disbudding is the removal of the two side buds next to the central bud at the end of each lateral branch. By removing these two side buds when they are very small (pea sized), you will find that the center bud, now without competition, will grow a longer and stronger stem. The flower that develops will also be larger because all of the lateral branch?s energy will be diverted into the single flower instead of three flowers. If you are deadheading rather than disbudding, simply cut the flowering stem off the plant to the point where it emerges from the main stem.

I hope this information helps you grow healthy and happy dahlias. Enjoy!

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