Mistake - blood meal instead of bone meal

georgejasonMay 10, 2008

Ugh - - I planted my tubers 3-4 weeks ago with blood meal instead of bone meal. I've read this could burn the tuber. I dug one up and nothing appears to be happening, the roots were very small and short. Any suggestions? Should I dig them all up? I planted over 70.

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Poochella(7 WA)

I wouldn't worry. Blood meal is nitrogen and not too much of it from what I read.

The link has a great article with photos that any of us can learn from. One of our great NW growers is interviewed.
And this address has another inspiring tale of how dahlias are easy and inspiring with just a little care.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dahlia article featuring Dick Parshall

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 10:23PM
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AThanks for the article poochella. How do you feel about him adding the fertilizer on top of the tuber?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 9:21AM
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sturgeonguy(5a ON)

FWIW, I didn't see how the article provided new "good" insight. Yes, it tried to suggest that more people could grow Dahlias, but I don't agree with some of the advice.

I don't see how putting fertilizer on top of the tuber is better than mixing it into the soil underneath the tuber. That fertilizer is for roots, not the sprout, and the roots form at the tip of the tuber, not elsewhere. Put the fertlizer where you expect roots, which is typically below not above.

Further, the idea that you can somehow plan when there's going to be frost, and cut your Dahlia back before that date, just sounds "theoretical" and, therefore, dumb. There's nothing to be gained by cutting your Dahlia back sooner. A hard frost will kill the plant, at which point you can cut it back and new sprouts will try to grow. I can't think where we'd see air frost and ground frost at the same time. So if you wake up one morning in November and see brown/black on the leaves, you know you were frosted. That doesn't mean that flower buds are going to die versus bloom, tomorrow you might have warm weather and things will be fine.

I'd leave my Dahlia (and I have) until the newly forming flower buds turn to mush, then cut the stalk, and then leave it in the ground for another week. It would take some pretty extreme weather to harm the tubers if you lifed them a week later.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 11:39PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

If you ask a person how they do something they've done successfully for a long while, or even a short while, you're going to get vast and divergent viewpoints on what practices led to their success. So I just read and take into account different climates, soils, and all the variables and just end up doing what works for me. What else can one do? Sift through the available info, trial and error, and do what works for you in your area.

PD: Regarding the fertilizer-- the article mentioned 'time- released' which I have used many years and it specifically needs to be in the uppermost layers of soil to be activated by warmer temps. So 'on top of the tuber' makes perfect sense to me. I would say 'on top of the root zone' is more apt, but the writer doesn't know dahlias.

Russ, regarding the verbage about 'cutting before the frost' one would have to be Kreskin-esque to pull that off, I agree! I pass that commentary off to creative license by the writer, not the grower. My DH and I often giggle and guffaw when we read newspaper articles written by a layperson about subjects they cover familiar to us but not them, and they just muddle up completely at times. So a grain of salt is advised when reading a casual source such as HGTV or any other topical source including magazines.

If you want to get the scoop on doing dahlias, stick with the ADS or dahlia societies' guidelines for your area, and even then you're likely to get many different opinions and ideas. That's the fun of it: what will work best for you in your area?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 1:52AM
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Had to jump in on this because I've been wondering if I could improve performance on my D's. I've used Espoma's Bulbtone the past few years to plant and always mix in the bottom of the hole as they suggest. Usually add bone meal also. Last yr my production was very weak and I didn't know what to attribute it to except inadequate fertilizer or else bad tubers.

I do use Bulbtone on lilies and alliums and they are great so maybe I'm not feeding the dahlia's enough. What granular are you using Poochella? I'd also love to get rid of the Miracle-Gro that's been on the shelf for a few yrs. But I suppose thats a little high N
What do you think?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 10:30PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

Hi Alyrics,
I finally threw away the volumes of Miracle Grow I got at Costco ten years ago, with no use for it anymore.

Don't know the Espoma products and don't use bone meal because the dogs dig it up. What I used in the past was Osmocote Veggie formula 14-14-14 then used Mor Bloom when buds formed. There might have been other products I can't remember.

This year it's 10-20-20 no time release.

Some dahlias just go nuts producing new tubers, others are scant. Someone else will have to say why.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 11:28AM
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HI Poochella! didn't know if you would remember me.
Espoma makes organic fertilizers

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 3:46PM
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triple_b(BC 5b)

and don't use bone meal because the dogs dig it up.
* * *
I have a girlfriend who lives a few miles out of town. Whenever she uses bonemeal, all the dogs in the area (fenced in thank goodness) start barking and when she uses bloodmeal all the feral cats visit her yard.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 2:38PM
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larry_c(z6 Stl. Mo.)

Mt thoughts on fertilizers. Nothing..NOTHING. can beat a good 3" layer of compost. I heap it around my plants to a min. 12" diameter. The worms move it into the earth, create air holes, and it helps retain moisture. This stuff is magic.

We built a new bed last year. It was junk until I added 3" of compost in late July and then it just exploded.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 6:59AM
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