|1. March/April/May - Join a Dahlia Group. Even though you are busy with all the spring gardening, this is a great time to find your local Dahlia club/group/society and start attending their meetings. You will learn alot and discover many benefits like access to tools and growing materials.|
|2. March & April-Before You Plant. This is a good time to enrich your soil with a low nitrogen type fertilizer. I have found the Bud & Bloom from the Gardner & Bloom brand to a good product. Testing your soil for PH and soil quality is also a good idea.|
|3. March & April - Get Organized and Save Information. This is a critical time to save the photos for the new tubers you have purchased. The photos may be on store packaging, web page, etc. When your plants start to bloom, you'll want some visual evidence to verify that what is blooming and what you planted are a match. You can often use a tablet computer or smart phone to google a dahlia name and then capture a photo. That will give you something to look at when you are trying to identify your flowers in bloom.|
|4. April & May -When You Plant. Put some kind of
stick/label in the ground beside each tuber you plant if you are not
absolutely sure of the flowers identity. It is amazing how confusing it can
be in August to figure out what dahlias you have when so many look similar.
It can be even more confusing if your tuber does not match the packaging,
what you ordered, or the previous grower mis-labeled the tuber.
Some people like to place a 4 ft. stake in the ground beside each tuber before covering with dirt. They know they need/want to secure the plants later on and are trying to avoid damage to the tuber when they put a stake in the ground in August. I might do that if I was planting 15-20 plants but not for 700 that normally gets planted. I only stake those that look like falling over and try to avoid that by trimming for low bushy plants. This is really a personal choice and can vary according to what method you use to secure your plants.
|5. Slugs -- Slugs and snails are a persistent and deadly problem for dahlias, especially when the plants are just emerging from the soil in late spring. You should plan to use a variety of methods to attract and kill them. They will hide on the underside of many kinds of material so it can be a strategic operation to set out some pieces of wood, plastic, etc. and then kill them by hand when you turn the object over. I like to cut 1 1/4 in. PVC pipe into 12 in long pieces, spray paint them green to blend in with the landscape, insert slug bait inside the tube, then set them near the plants. The tube keeps the bait away from pets and other animals and keeps the bait fresh for a longer period of time. Along with these type of approaches, you would also be wise to walk around your plants at night with a flashlight. You can spot the varmits and deal with them as you see fit.|
|6. Aphids. Aphids are more of a nuisance
because of the damage they do to the flower petals and foliage. I'm not a
real fan of spraying chemicals all around for just a few groups of these
insects. I prefer to put on rubber gloves, dip my fingers into an
insecticidal soap or weak pesticide solution, then apply by hand to the
aphids I see. Ants can be part of the problem in that they tend to use the
ants as a friend/source of food. I call ants the
"aphid ranchers" of the garden Whenever I see ants around my fruit trees or garden I put out some ant bait to discourage their activity.