Dahlias forum→Dahlias - planting extra deep and/or extra early

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Middletown, IN 47356
Mar 28, 2021 11:26 AM CST
What would happen if I planted my dahlia tubers extra deep, other than taking longer for any sprouts to get to the surface. Would they make more tubers along the portion of the stem that would be underground? Would it be beneficial to the plant by letting the roots to have more time to develop prior to the sprouts breaking the surface?
Given I don't let the ground freeze. I am in Indiana in the 6a zone. I don't view 6a as being correct becuase we were in zone five for most of my life (47 yrs.). That being said, it may be the case that the data is more precise and granular on the zones. However, my house is right in the middle of a "peninsula" of 6a that juts out from the main body of the zone vs. being in the middle of it so I still use 5 as my guide. I don't know if the urban heat island has an effect on my area or not either. 6a on paper, 5 in application. The goal would like be to see them bloom earlier and it would be convenient to plant them earlier since there are fewer things I have to do in the yard right now vs. later when there is more work and it is hotter.
Name: Melissa
Omaha, NE (Zone 5b)
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Mar 30, 2021 12:48 PM CST
Welcome to the Dahlia Forum! You can definitely take your chances planting extra early/extra deep, but I'm not sure how beneficial it would be, as dahlias need warm soil to grow. Most people that want earlier blooms usually start them inside/makeshift greenhouse, or move them inside/outside in pots as the weather plays the usual games.
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
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Mar 30, 2021 2:32 PM CST
Melissa is right. Dahlias need warmth to grow. Planting deeper will mean the soil is colder, not to mention the quality of the soil will be worse - heavier soil, less air exchange, more propensity to rot. This will plague you through the summer. You certainly won't gain any earlier sprouting, and I will bet it will be later.
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Name: Sulli
Philadelphia (Zone 7a)
Mar 31, 2021 7:08 PM CST
I would definitely not plant until mid to late May at the earliest in ground. I tried early planting and lost more than half to rot. I can appreciate it being a good project when things aren't too busy but there's a lot of risk to the plants and they won't really grow till the soil is warm.

If you want an early start, potting them up and putting them in a sunny cold frame is the best way to go, keeping them on the dry side will allow them to put on good root systems and sprout a few leaves if you want to try multiplying with cuttings. I now pot them as they arrive and then transplant out the first week of June.
Middletown, IN 47356
Apr 1, 2021 6:12 AM CST
This was great. All the responses. I did not know about the warm requirement and I typically don't plant them so early as this. I will admit to you all who work to get more precise results from your tubers--I don't have exotic ones and my main goal is to have them look good from a distance in a mass planting - no earlier blooms and increase rot potential is warning enough for me.
West Central Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Apr 1, 2021 3:41 PM CST
I would try heating the soil. Covering your planting area with clear plastic or a cold frame might let you plant them out a couple of weeks early. I don't know anything about Dahlias, but putting a warm weather plant deeper than recommended in the spring isn't going to work very well.
Name: Gary
Wyoming MN (Zone 4a)
Apr 1, 2021 4:21 PM CST
I start mine in black gallon pots. Put them on the sunny patio and then cover them if need be. I plant well established plants at the end of May. Black=heat absorption
Middletown, IN 47356
May 17, 2021 11:23 AM CST
Thanks Folks, they take so long to get going, but when they do they look great.

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