Early Starters Too Tall for 4' Pots....What To Do?

cookie_ks(9)May 28, 2008

Hello All Fellow Dahlia Lovers!

Anyone have a suggestion on how I should deal with the problem of my early started dahlias are getting too tall for the 4" pots I started them in? I have tried to use small stakes, but there is not much soil to anchor the stake into. We have had rain for a week and it will take another week for the soil to dry out so I can plant. Should I cut them back? I have already pinched out the middle after they had grown 3 sets of true leaves. Any help would be greatly appreciated....this is my third year and last year I swore I was giving up....here in Kansas it gets really hot and dry in the summer and last year all my plants were infested with some kind of flying bugs...not many blooms at all. I thought I would try one more year and see what happens...I love those Dahlias and I have a hard time giving up on anything...Guess I am stubborn!

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sturgeonguy(5a ON)

I've used shishkabob skewers as stakes in my 4" pots and its working fine with plants that are >2'. If yours are very spindly I can see how skewers might not work. If that's true, probably a good idea to cut them back anyway.

If not, do you have a curtain rod you can tie string too? e.g. put the plant on a windowsill under the curtain rod and tie a string to the rod and the other end at the base of the plant, winding the string around the stem.

Option #2, put the pot inside an inverted tomato cage.

Option #3, put the pot inside a box that is sized a little smaller than the plant's branches.

Option #4, put the pot into a florist's sleeve.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 11:22PM
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Russ: Thanks for the suggestions. When you say cut them back, what exactly do you mean? I read somewhere on this forum about there being too much space between leave sets(mine have about 5" or more). I have already done the pinching or stopping after the first 3 sets of leaves. Do you think it would be alright to cut the whole plant back to a manageable height?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 9:39AM
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sturgeonguy(5a ON)

You can certainly cut the plant back at the stem practically anywhere you want as long as its close to where some branches are (just like you did when you topped.) However, its a shame to lose the growth just because they're not standing up on their own. When you topped they should have gotten thicker anyway, and should continue to do so.

I'd look to one of the solutions I mentioned.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 5:03PM
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I thought that when I topped mine, they would branch out and get bushy, but they have not. And, to top it all off, I forgot about the hardening off thing. I may just take a suggestion from another forum person, I believe her user name is plantlady. She suggested if the dahlias are too leggy, when you plant them, just plant them deeper, removing the bottom leaves like you would tomato plants. If I can get them planted in the next few days, that might work. If we get more rain before I get them in the ground, I will just have to cut them back as you suggested.

I envy your lovely garden area. I could see some of the trees in the background in the photos you posted. I hope you will post more photos when your dahlias are blooming.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 5:53PM
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