The photos above are from member Cory Kelso. On the left is a healthy cutting and on the right is a cutting Cory received from a dahlia seller. Cory noticed right away that the cutting was not doing well. As you can see, the leaves are mottled, and wrinkled. The dahlia is slow to grow and somewhat stunted. This dahlia should be thrown away. Do not compost, so that dahlia Virus does not transmit to other plants. Be sure to observe your plants during the first few weeks of growth. If you suspect virus, pull the plant and dispose of it, as it can be spread to other plants via inoculation of the plant sap from insects; such as aphids, white flies, and other pests. Viru can also be transmitted from plant to plant via a gardeners cutting, disbudding, and grooming of their plants. It is important to maintain clean cutting tools while caring for our dahlias.
Here on the central coast, members have been planting for the last several weeks. The last week of March brought a lot of rain and planting was delayed for many of us. There is more than one way or technique to planting tubers. Some grow exclusively in pots, some people start in small one gallon containers to get the tubers going, and others place their tubers directly in the soil. I dig a about a 4 inch deep hole and add my amendments (secret sauce) to the soil. Every year, I experiment with different amendments with planting. This year I used a combination of vermicompost, balanced organic fertilizer, and some mycorrhizae. Based on my soil testing that I did in the winter, I have plenty of Phosphorus, and I am not planning on adding this year. I lay the tuber in the amended hole, on its side, with the "eye" or sprout facing up towards the sky, and then I cover the tuber with about two inches of soil. I use plastic markers with the name of the variety written on it. Later, when I stake and tie off my dahlias, I will add another name tag up higher that is more visible and at my eye level on the dahlia. There are many techniques for marking your dahlias. Some people just like to put their dahlias in the ground, unmarked; enjoying the happy surprise that comes up. I prefer to keep track of my successes and failures: What grows tall or small? What is weak or strong? Is it a prolific bloomer or not? Is it late or early blooming? Marking helps me keep my dahlias more organized and helps me to plan for next year as well. Lastly, the soil should be moist, but not soggy. This April has given us some very warm days. Your soil should not be bone dry. Although we typically don't water until sprouts are above ground, we also should not let our soil completely dry out like the Sahara desert either. It's a bit of a juggle at first to find a good balance and losing a tuber or two, is not uncommon. I do hope that everyone is enjoying watching their dahlia spouts as they poke through the soil. Happy Planting Everyone!
Here is a photo of the rooted cuttings I made. They had a nice, warm, and comfortable stay in our dahlia society member, Cory's hoop house. They are very strong and healthy dahlia plants!
It took a tremendous amount of work, but our dahlia tuber sale moved to an online store format due to our county's COVID19 "shelter in place" orders. With the help and knowledge of our member, Laura Lucero, we were able to input all the tuber data and launch our site on 3/26/20. Member Cory Kelso came to my house and picked up all of my tubers and brought them to her house, where she organized a "warehouse" of dahlia tubers. Cory compiled and packaged all of the orders as they came in, and then her husband Jim, took the orders to the post office. It was quite a feat and I am so grateful that we were able to pull off this event. Despite the big success of the online format, I really must say that I missed having our tuber sale. The sense of community and fellowship of our fellow members was something that I missed very much this year. I also really missed seeing all the people in our community that would have come to our sale. Hopefully next year we can have our traditional sale and "shelter in place" will be a distant memory.