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Dahlia Growing/business questions

Posted by danidoo WASHINGTON (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 5, 08 at 21:02



My name is Nicki and I have a few dahlia/business questions. We are working
on establishing a small hobby type farm with a few key products one being
dahlias. I have grown dahlias for 4 years now and have had great success so
far. I know the large wheat/cattle farmers that live around the area think I
am nuts and there is no way to make flowers profitable but I am really hoping
to prove them wrong. I have a list of questions that I am hoping there are
some kind souls out there who would not mind sharing some info from there
years of experience.

I have posted this on a few other lists as well so if you see it more than
once I do apologize.

I posted a few months ago looking for a list of dahlias that are patented and
not available for resale by private individuals. I have found a list for
Canada and the UK but still nothing in the US. I know I saw a list for the
US last year somewhere but cannot seem to find it again. If anyone knows
where to find it I would love to know. Or if anyone knows of dahlias listed
on THE BIGLIST that are patented and not available for resale by private
individuals that would also be great. Or even a list of breeders that
normally patent there dahlias so I can check before adding them to our

I am getting ready to apply for my nursery license so I can sell/ship dahlias
and will be getting inspected by the department of agriculture for the first
time this year. I have to admit the thought of being inspected is very scary
I dont really know why but I would hate to go through months worth of work
and find out we missed something. When I call and ask what they inspect for
they just say disease/pests. For those who have had there plants inspected
in Washington or other states is there anything common in dahlias that would
make you not pass.

I also read and keep notes on all the pest/disease problems that people have
and am kind of curious if there are people out there who really dont have any
problems? I only ask because I keep looking for even the smallest signs of
anything and have not found much atleast nothing that seems to really affect
my plants. I do have wonderful natural predators lady bugs mainly and have
gone out of our way to maintain some of the natural vegitation inbetween
smaller garden areas to make sure they are happy. We have large mounds of
Canary? grass that usually reaches 6-8 feet tall and each plant usually has
40 plus lady bugs on it. We have approximatley 15 of these large grass
mounds in the garden and are hoping to try and transplant a few to new garden
areas this year. I do have moles but those really dont affect my dahlias as
far as passing a inspection they are just a huge irritant in my day.

We are not really into chemicals and dont really do any fertilizers we have
large compost piles that we use to add nutrients to the soil but other than
that the plants are pretty much on there own. We have irrigation line for
most of the plants to be more efficient in watering and also try and reduce
weeds. But I would love to know how larger growers with 1000 plus plants
keep up on the weed problem? I dont really have major weeds but do have
grass that creeps in from everywhere. We have very dark fertile soil and no
matter how hard I try and stay ahead of it I always seem to lose the battle.
Everything I have read says not to mulch atleast not until the plant has
started to grow. For plants that are started in pots can you mulch right
around them? Should you still leave some area uncovered around the base and
if so how much? We are looking into different mulches to use and may try a
little of everything this year to see what we like but I would love to hear
peoples ideas.

I am also hoping to start some of my plants early I do not have a green house
but I am wondering if anyone uses the hoop houses? I usually plant my tubers
earlier than most would recommend for our area what can I say I hate waiting
:) but for the most part because it is colder the earlier tubers usually dont
develop as well as the ones planted later once it warms up. I am hoping that
maybe a few hoop house rows would be a good solution to starting a little bit
early but not losing early growth.

For those who do sell tubers how many do you usually have on hand for each
variety? I ordered late last year and found I could not find a lot of what I
wanted because everyone was sold out I ordered much earlier this year and am
still finding the same thing MANY growers are already long sold out.

I am hoping to try doing some cutting for the first time this year I have a
bunch of notes written down from a discussion on another forum about taking
cutting but one thing I would like to know is if I want to take a cutting
from a growing plant how late can you succesfully take a cutting and still
have a plant that at the end of the growing season you will end up with a
tuber? I have done cuttings on other plants in years past but it has been a
long time.

Thanks in advance for your help you can either post your reply or email me
privatley at if there is anyone out there who is currently
in the dahlia buisness and would not mind me asking a few questions from time
to time I would love to get your email address.

Medical Lake Washington
Currently snowed in and anxiously awaiting any sign of spring :)

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Dahlia Growing/business questions

Hi Nicki,

1. patented plants/dahlias. I can not help you with a list. I do know that one can propagate patented plants asexually as long as one pays royalties to the patent holder. this is usually done via the purchase of 'patent tags' from the patent holder or through a plant broker. each plant sold must have a patent tag.

2. AG Inspection. the inpsector will want to take a look around (make sure things are clean and sterilized, labeled and stored properly, etc). they will also be your best resource person for any problems you might encounter with pests or diseases. they will also be the one to come and watch if you need a phyto (at least the first time or two).

3. we use minimal chemicals. be sure to ask your AG Inspector if your plants will require any treatments prior to shipping.

4. check out the greenhouse forum to learn more about hoop houses.

5. we usually have a minimum of 25 to 30 of each plant on hand, but we sell a large variety of perennials. some of our selections we have hundreds on hand.

check out the professional gardener forum here, nice and helpful folks over there!

RE: Dahlia Growing/business questions

Hi thanks for the info I will be sure to check out he other forums. I have to ask as I am new with the inspection stuff what is a PHYTO?

RE: Dahlia Growing/business questions

That's a Phytosanitory Certificate & is necessary if you are going to ship out of the country. Your local agriculture agent has to inspect the field during growing season for diseases & insects specific to the country you are going to ship to. Then he has to inspect the tubers before you package them up & ship them. Every over-seas order has to have it's own phyto-cert. The certificates cost around $38.00 each- plus you also have to pay for the field inspections & tests. You have to do this every year.

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