Eye Candy

CCvacationSeptember 2, 2014

Got a moment to post a few....

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CCvacation

First of the season on this plant, and biggest, as well.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:10AM
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CCvacation

Amazing number of blooms for this plant... Second year growing it.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:11AM
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springroz(z6 SKY)

Wow! Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:13AM
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CCvacation

The bugs really like the white on this one... I find it interesting which white varieties are left alone and which are chomped constantly.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:13AM
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CCvacation

Just a gem.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:14AM
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CCvacation

A little anemone cutie... Lots of small hearty tubers, with good cutting qualities.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:16AM
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CCvacation

One from a friend's dahlia bed, that I hope to grow next year.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:18AM
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CCvacation

Around 8 inches.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:20AM
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CCvacation

Around 6 inches, though the first flush were bigger. The petals should wrap to the stem, but I haven't gotten much of that in my blooms. Pretty, regardless.

Not too much bug damage on these.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:23AM
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CCvacation

Not open all the way, but I couldn't wait to take the image! Been wanting to grow this one for a while. 7-8 inches.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:26AM
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CCvacation

This is a stunning bloom, with very nice contrast.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 1:18PM
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CCvacation

Gotta love those waterlilies! Especially when 'Hollyhill' is part of its name.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 1:21PM
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CCvacation

Another WL..

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 1:22PM
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CCvacation

One more, with my hand for scale. This one has very little variegation compared to other images I've seen of it. I was hoping for a more intense look versus subtle, but it's still very nice

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 1:25PM
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dahliafever

Wow! These pictures would result in my "must have" list to grow, and the front lawn to shrink in size...!! :) you must be really proud of these beauties... congrats! !!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 7:57PM
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ben773(5a)

CCvacation:
Superb!!!
What zone are you in? How many hours of sun do they get?
Thanks for posting the pics.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 8:36PM
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CCvacation

Lawn? What lawn? :-D

Full sun, zone 5/6 in Northwestern PA

I have three rows like this one, about 300 plants, 200 varieties in all.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 9:13PM
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cagoldbear(9a - Houston)

How are you fertilizing? I just applied my second batch of fertilizer and I can literally see lots of new growth. It's my first year with dahlias and flowers in general, so now I know!!! I applied fish meal and I had some osmocote that I applied also.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 9:26PM
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Prettypetals_GA_7-8

So darn pretty!! Love the waterlilies and Harry and Gitts!! So beautiful!!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 10:13PM
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ben773(5a)

CCvacation:
That's a lot of deadheading (Summer), digging (Fall) and planting (Spring). And then there's the storage of the tubers. A labor of love indeed, but the results is well worth it from the pics.
I hope you have help :>

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 10:44PM
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CCvacation

Goldbear, Teddahlia is the best one to ask specific fertilizer questions concerning dahlias, as he's one of the top hybridizers in the country and has vast experience with growing them. He also hobnobs with growers like Swan Island's Gitts family, Dan of Dan's Dahlias and many other top growers, constantly observing what works and what doesn't work, and applying the successful growing techniques. He has been an invaluable mentor.

To summarize what I have learned from him and other experienced growers, dahlias are heavy feeders, but if you want the tubers to overwinter well (either in the ground, garage, or basement), be sure to stop feeding early August. The excess nutrients and nitrogen especially can make them more susceptible to soil pathogens when they aren't actively growing (at least this is my understanding). Since you are in zone 9 in Houston, I got NO IDEA if the early August guideline would be accurate for you.

This is what works for me-

My fertilizing program is planting out with organics (mushroom manure, coffee grounds, alfalfa pellets), slow release pellets, lime and low-rated organic lawn fertilizer with bone meal in it to provide a slow feed to the developing plants. When they are budding and only a couple feet up, I hit them hard with foliar spray, with Miracle Grow and a tablespoon Epson Salts per gallon with a micro squirt of soap to help it stick to the leaves. I do it again every couple weeks until early August, then leave them alone to do their thing.

I try to enrich the soil after digging the tubers, but don't always get to that step. Dozens of five gallon buckets of coffee grounds, or rotted leaf compost from last year's leaves. It's all good. Then I'll toss some soil on top and through to get the microbes and worms going. I sprinkle lime (I have acidic soil here in PA) over all the beds in January, about the same time I'm inclined to peek in at my sleeping tubers to see if any are waking up early. I also mix in a touch of lime when I plant out for good measure, though I've been told that its a waste, as lime needs months to work its magic.

Truth be told, I've seen spectacular gardens with minimal fertilizer. Dahlias just want to grow. After a few years in the same spot, I've been told that those dahlias don't do as well unless nutrients are added back into the soil or fed directly to the dahlias.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 11:15PM
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ben773(5a)

CCvacation:
Any tips on over-wintering dahlia tubers with the least work?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2014 at 6:18PM
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CCvacation

A couple long-time growers in my local club swear by cutting the clumps in half, being sure to clean out the pith in the stem (rot risk), and storing in layers of newspaper in boxes in a cold cellar.

That works for some, and is catastrophic for others. It depends on humidity and temp fluctuation factors.

Storing is trial and error. Goodness knows I'm still trying to perfect it! My tactic is for variety preservation, where I store tubers from the same variety in different places using different techniques. Most certainly NOT the quickest or easiest way to go about it!

In the past, I wrap a couple and vermiculite pack the rest, but this year I'm looking at incorporating a THIRD method of storing unwashed clump halves in cardboard boxes in a humid 65 degree cellar... Who knows, that method may be superior to everything else I have done to this point! If not, I will still hopefully preserve those varieties with the divided half a clump.

I have been investigating alternate systematic fungicides to apply a few weeks before frost so the tubers might have built-in resistance against rot during storage... We'll see.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2014 at 11:14PM
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CCvacation

Nice big one.

I tried unsuccessfully to grow this for two years, the tubers always failing for one reason or another... Hip, hip hurray for 'three times the charm!' Other growers say that they had no such problems with this variety, so it was just me putting it in too late and it being smothered by larger plants, or it rotting because I didn't prestart the tuber before planting in the ground.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 9:20AM
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CCvacation

Another nice waterlily...

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 11:54AM
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CCvacation

Here's a new release, sold for $25 in 2014, and has gone down to a mere $19 for 2015! What a bargain, right? ;-)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 12:03PM
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cagoldbear(9a - Houston)

CC, super helpful. Thank you. I am hooked for next year, I have several Tahiti Sunrise but I love love the bicolor pink to yellow, and I'm waiting for my Kogana Fubuki to bloom! I have some shorter Crazy Loves that are much more white-limey than tinged withe purple, so I'll be looking for some shorter purple for next season. Yeay! Thank you!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 12:33PM
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CCvacation

"...I love love the bicolor pink to yellow,"

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 1:44PM
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CCvacation

Pink to yellow

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 1:45PM
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CCvacation

Pink to yellow...

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 1:49PM
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ben773(5a)

CCvacation:
Thanks for the storage tips. The cutting the clumps in half and cleaning the pith method...Do you wash the tubers first? Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 9:10PM
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CCvacation

Conventional wisdom is that you wash all the dirt and nasties off the clumps before dividing and storing... Most of the 'how-to' advice online recommend this.

There are some who believe that the soil has anti-fungal properties, and that washing tubers strips that natural protection off. (There are fungus-eating microbes that thrive in worm waste. They are one of the reason worms are so important to soil)

I'm starting to come around to that way of thinking, too, after years of constantly fighting mold on tubers during storage. Part of my problem is that I have too many to let them dry properly before storing. If I gave each set of a dozen clumps that have been washed and divided a full week to dry before starting with the next set, I would never make it through all three hundred clumps! Hence my constant search for the best way for me to store tubers.
Most growers believe that you should never leave clumps of soil between the tubers, causing them to rot, but I know a very good grower who couldn't be bothered to even brush them off, tossing whole clumps in boxes with soil and worms still clinging to them. He only divides in spring, and never washes them. I should add that he also has a climate-controlled warehouse and stacks the boxes on dollies to easily move them around if he needs to during the winter. I received a few of his clumps this spring, and was amazed at how well preserved they were. Makes sense, really. After all, they overwinter perfectly in the ground in warmer weather unless the ground stays wet for long periods of time. The excess moisture is what normally kills tubers while dormant, not soil.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 11:36PM
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ben773(5a)

Thank you very much CC vacation for the explanation. I have about 4 plants (I'm just starting out) and thus 4 clumps. Can I pot them up after digging (and trimming the stock plus dusting the wound of the stem with fungicide), and put it in a cool basement, 40-50 F? Will it work?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2014 at 7:00PM
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davidinsf

BEAUTIFUL array of dahlias. Makes my 88 dahlias look like 2nd hand shop fare. Curious to how long your season lasts? When mine start blooming, some are always 'circling the drain' even when new ones are blooming but yours ALL seem so bright and fresh. However, mine start blooming in May or june and end in Aug/Sept so I have a fairly LONG season to contend with.

"After a few years in the same spot, I've been told that those dahlias don't do as well unless nutrients are added back into the soil or fed directly to the dahlias"

I can attest to that also. If I just try to miracleGro my dahlias every year, they get weaker and weaker by the year. But if I amend the soil well (steer or chicken manure, etc) they seem to be like new every year.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2014 at 10:42PM
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CCvacation

"Can I pot them up after digging (and trimming the stock plus dusting the wound of the stem with fungicide), and put it in a cool basement, 40-50 F?"

With only four clumps, that would be great! But I wouldn't wash them, or knock off the soil.... Or trim the tails off, for that matter. I'd disturb it as little as possible, and don't water the pots at all until you want to see growth!

I would, however, divide them a bit before planting them out next spring. I do know some small growers that just throw the whole clump in a hole in spring, but it seems a waste when so many of those tubers could be strong plants on their own away from the crowd.

This post was edited by CCvacation on Sat, Sep 6, 14 at 0:27

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 12:24AM
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CCvacation

"Curious to how long your season lasts? "

Mid July to early Oct. Most of the varieties hit their full stride mid August. Right now, the plants that were blooming their hearts out early are struggling with floppy stems and open centers, where the new bloomers are remarkedly more vigorous.

Many dedicated show growers around my area never plant before mid-June, to avoid 'circling the drain' during show time. As I was scouring my rows for show-worthy blooms and coming up uncomfortably short, this makes a lot of sense. But I enjoy the constant stream of blooms more then ribbons, so I will keep on prestarting my tubers and planting as early as possible to get those precious July blooms.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 12:34AM
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ben773(5a)

CCvacation:
Thanks for the storage and growing tips. All your blooms are so perfect. Bravo!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 2:24AM
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bouquet_kansas(z6Ks)

CC.......your dahlias are just gorgeous! I am so envious
of how many that you have.......

Carol

    Bookmark   September 7, 2014 at 1:37AM
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cagoldbear(9a - Houston)

This is the Kogana Fubuki - I have very alkaline soils, I think it affected the saturation.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2014 at 3:57PM
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CCvacation

That variety opens yellow and matures pink. Very fun to watch.

I lost it last year, and wouldn't mind having it back next year. Very short stems on mine, needing strenuous disbudding for length. Good garden variety, though.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 9:06AM
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CCvacation

Found this in my 2013 files... Such fun when splits like this happens, resulting in two fully-formed blooms. Quite often this split just ruins it, looking deformed and ugly. Saw picts of a three-faced flower this year from another's garden...

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 9:09AM
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CCvacation

Not a big fan of this one, but it's pretty.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2014 at 8:36AM
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morpheuspa

It's not recommended, but I always toss things I'm wintering over into paper bags without washing off the soil (or drying them particularly well). I do knock off the worst of the soil to keep the bags from weighing too much.

I find the lawn and leaf bags you can get at any big box store work well, and I don't put more than 4 or 5 in a bag. The bags then go into the cellar open for a number of weeks to dry out by themselves (the air in the cellar circulates as it's part of my lower level air system and the cellar air averages 30% humidity in winter).

Some weeks in, I close the bags loosely to retain the final little bit of moisture. Sometimes I remember to spray with a bit of neem oil. Sometimes I don't.

Losses over years of doing this has been exactly zero.

Over time, I've formulated the theory that the dry, circulating air is more important than the temperature (60 to 65). I couldn't say how correct that is.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2014 at 2:08PM
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ben773(5a)

Thanks morpheuspa for the input. Good to know I have options.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2014 at 7:15PM
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CCvacation

I had six open shopping bags of canna on my cellar floor through winter, and even after being completely submerged for four days when the sump pump quit working, they were just fine. In fact, I forgot about them and was reminded by the unfurling leaves in June to take them outside.

Treating some 'workhorse' dahlia varieties like you suggested would probably work okay, Morpheus, and if your three varieties of big box discount dahlia fail, you can always replace them easy enough. Some great varieties (that are quite nice) to treat that way would be Chilson's Pride or Mingus Toni, both of which have almost indestructible tubers and plenty of them, too.

When you start collecting 'racehorse' varieties that can be difficult to overwinter, throwing them nonchalantly in the cellar may not work so well. Experienced growers occasionally lose the majority or part of their stock to storage issues, and some beautiful varieties are extremely hard to overwinter.

That's why I suggest to folks just beginning that it is wise to store your favorite varieties a couple different ways in different locations until you settle on a storage method that gives you consistent results.

There are some that treat dahlias as annuals, and just buy them each year, avoiding the work of digging and storing. Once you start a collection, it is harder to treat them like annuals as the same varieties may not be available year to year.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2014 at 9:55AM
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morpheuspa

We really need you to put together a list of "indestructibles" for those of us who are simply not blessed with good storage but want pretty dahlias. I have the choice between variable humidity and near freezing or low humidity but sixty degrees.

So far, I can definitely say that Sky Angel is indestructible. Whether or not Blue Boy or Sun Lady are or not is unknown, but I'll be able to tell you in another two years or so. So far, it looks good.

Also, would sprinkling with elemental sulfur help?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2014 at 1:18PM
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CCvacation

Some old timers do, but others say that they don't see any difference when they have and when they haven't used sulfur. My mentors do not use it.

When I receive a tuber with that stuff, I can't wash the smell off my hands for a week!

It makes more sense to me to dip the cut ends in it, like packing a wound, then shaking the stuff over tubers like "bake 'n shake." I use cinnamon to 'pack the wounds,' which smells a whole lot better, and also has anti-fungal properties.

Would I swear by it? No, but I do it anyways when i have need to cut bad parts off a tuber. Using $1 cinnamon from the Dollar Tree is a cheap bandaid.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2014 at 2:19PM
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morpheuspa

>>When I receive a tuber with that stuff, I can't wash the smell off my hands for a week!

Tell me about it.

I'm also not a fan of cinnamon scent, but it beats sulfur turning to sulfur dioxide by a mile. I'll try it, thanks!

Neem oil is a tolerably good antifungal, that might be worth a shot as a test on some extra tubers. It kind of smells like a spicy cologne and I rather like it (I use it as an indoor mite killer and antifungal on houseplants since it's pretty harmless to humans).

At least in my case, not being more than a minor hobbyist (I love dahlia, but they have to compete with the rest of the 2,000 square foot garden for care and space), I'd tend to limit myself to indestructible tuber varieties anyway.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2014 at 12:45PM
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cagoldbear(9a - Houston)

I used neem oil this summer on my hydrangeas, and once I found good result against the cercospora, I just used it all over my "investment" garden of dahlias, gladiolus and hydrangeas. I love it, I haven't had problems otherwise, except with ants/insects chewing the ends of my petals. :/

However, just the other day I shooed away a praying mantis that was perched at the top of my one (of only two) kogana fubuki blooms, so hopefully s/he moved on to harvest more little ants. The two green anoles (lizards) are also taking care of business, but I still see ants on the stems.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2014 at 2:41PM
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pdshop(5)

My Harvey Koop is much more orange?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2014 at 8:30PM
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CCvacation

Just the dark red and golden yellow splotched on Harvey Koop. No orange on mine, though it looks like it from ten feet away. Could be a sport, or perhaps the time of year is effecting your blooms.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2014 at 12:37AM
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