Dahlias growing slowly

dadapoetAugust 3, 2010

Anyone else here having slow growing dahlias? I began gardening a few months ago and picked up some decorative dahlia tubers in May at a big box store. They were sprouting up quite quickly when I first planted them but stalled in growth after I pinched back. They seem to be growing faster now that I've put them in the ground for the past month...but they're still quite small. It's the end of July and my largest plants are still only 2 feet tall! The smallest ones only have about 4-6 leaves (new growths sprouted out from the eyes this month). I fertilized with all purpose fertilizer (12-4-8) two weeks ago , but it doesn't seem to have much response. Will I be able to enjoy any blooms this year? I live in Ontario.

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Yes, my dahlias are growing slow this year and I lost alot to rot! I have some 5 feet tall and some 2 feet? I have blooms on the slow growing plants so hang in there you should have some blooms. I started some inside this year and those are doing great lots of blooms, I'm going to start as many as I can inside next year:) Cindy

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 9:56AM
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Hi. The ones that I started in February inside and transplanted in March and April are as much as 6' high. The ones that I planted in June are as you described. None look super healthy.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 7:54PM
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Thanks guys. Hope my dahlias can sprint through this month and produce something for September or October. I'll remember to start earlier next year.

Out of curiosity, what happens to the ones that don't quite make it before frost? Can I dig them up and try to get them to bloom from a container?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 12:38AM
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I've dug up ones that never made it in the fall along with my others. sometimes they produced tubers that I could divide and plant the following year.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 7:47PM
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I had some last year that never bloomed and did not make more tubers. I stored them overwinter, then started them inside now their blooming. I was really happy that one of them was sir alf ramsey, the bloom is so pretty:) Cindy

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 10:02PM
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Dahlias seem to have minds of their own. Sometimes one of my many dahlias starts to sprout and then 'goes to sleep' for seemingly weeks. No growth, no buds, no nothing. Then sometimes WHAM - they start producing for seemingly no reason and sprout like weeds. Granted, I live in a tough environment for sun loving plants (the FAR western section of San Francisco - where I have not seen the sun more than 3 days since mid June)so I usually chalk it up to the fog.

I have noticed though that first year tubers never seem to like my yard/environment and about 25% never make it. It could be that yours are just adjusting to your yard.

I would caution however that Swan Island is adamant about not using nitrogen once the plants have sprouted or are about to bloom. Your 12-4-8 means you gave them 2-3 times as much nitrogen as phosphate and potassium - a huge no no. I followed their advice this year and used a 0-10-10 and I have had my best crop of dahlias in years. And I repeat - we have had 2 days where the sun even showed up (late afternoon) in July, so for mine to prosper in this weather HAS to be due to the food regimen I followed. (Because I have 8 first year dahlias and though 2 rotted, I've got beautiful blooms from the remaining 6.)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 12:55AM
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I admit that I used a high nitrogen fertilizer on them even though I know it's generally discouraged. I read somewhere that it was an acceptable practice if they're less than one foot (which most of mine are, spare 2 plants. sigh.). I was hoping to use it for a few weeks and then back off for the rest of the season to encourage growth.

Seems like I missed out this season, but perhaps I will have some new tubers to start off next year! I'll stop fertilizing for now.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 1:57AM
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My dahlias made it! It's mid-September and mighty late--, but my dahlias have had their first bloom! Using a high nitrogen fertilizer in the first few months while they were still developing leaves didn't seem to deter it from sending up lots of buds, although I'm not sure the effect it had on their size. The ones I have are about 3 to 3.5" in diameter, which perhaps is a bit on the small side. I guess I will see next year after I modify my gardening techniques.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 12:31AM
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I collected tubers last fall from great plants, but planted late (end of May). We've had a LOT of rain and so far I see no sprouts (except one that got left in the ground). Should I replant at this late date or plant in pots. I hate to have the tubers go to waste--I'd plant just to have them bloom next year if that would work. I'll never dig them again! Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 2:05PM
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Noni Morrison

Where are you at, bethesue? There are so many different climates where people are trying to grow dahlias! I would suggest you gently dig up a few of your tubers and inspect them. Are they rotting in the ground? Or are they making nice roots down there and just starting to grow upwards below the surface?

When you say you "collected tubers" last year, I wonder whether they were cut properly with growth eye still on the tuber? If not they will never grow. So many reasons why they may not be doing as expected...do you want to give more information?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:47AM
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