Archive for October, 2020

Dahlias, Dahling Dahlias

dahliaAs an accomplished dahlia grower, we know says, “It is time to fluff your dahlias.” This form of maintenance includes deadheading old blooms, disbudding and debranching, tying the plants to support stakes, controlling insects, and possibly spraying for powdery mildew.

Deadheading (removing spent or declining blooms), along with disbudding and debranching, helps to redirect the plant’s energy to the formation of the new blooms. Disbudding and debranching involve the removal of the new buds adjacent to the new bloom and removal of the new growth of side branching one branch lower. This also helps to build stronger stems and larger flowers. Our dahlia grower said, “The first time I disbudded and debranched, I felt like a murderer . . . but I got over it.” It really does improve the plant and bloom.

The “border” dahlias are usually shorter and don’t generally need to be staked, but taller plants can be somewhat floppy and need to be supported. The stake should be in place by now and the plant can be tied with regular garden twine. Some folks have even eased their dahlia plants into wire tomato cages for support.

Spraying an insecticide in a garden can interrupt the life cycles of the beneficial insects. Give the good bugs an opportunity to do their jobs. A preferred philosophy in the Diagnostic Lab is the opposable thumb method of dispatching most of the troublesome insects in the garden. Literally “rubbing them out” is quite effective.

Spraying a fungicide now will mitigate the inevitable powdery mildew that will become prevalent on your dahlia plants this time of year. Remember, you are applying the fungicide to protect the plant from a fungal infection. Spraying won’t make the existing powdery mildew go away. If you choose to spray, follow the container instructions to spray in continuing intervals until the end of the growing season while your plants still look healthy.

Published in the September-October 2017 issue of Heads UP!

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