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Updated July 16, 2018
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2018 notes on dahlias in 2017
George kept track of the dahlia dates for 2017. The planting date was 5/14/17. This year it was 5/23/18, over a week later.
By 6/11/17, eleven dahlias had emerged. By 6/6/18, we had 7 up out of the 12 planted in the raised beds. There are another 6 elsewhere, and as of 6/6/18 one of them has sprouted.
By 7/14/17, 2 months after planting, there were no flower buds on any plant. On 7/31/17 one plant has its first bloom (to see it, go to http://allenjfrantzen.com/garden/2017/July/2/july2.html, very end of the file). Less then a week later, 8/5/17, there were 5 flowers, all on the same plant.
By 8/19/17, 7 plants had not bloomed, and by 9/29/17 we were still waiting for 1 plant to bloom! So 1017 was a very slow year, with about half the dahlias late bloomers. By early August 2017, however, we had plenty of color out there, as you can see here.
2017 note on George's dahlias
George grows dahlias and other flowers and plants in raised beds that he started building in the early 1990s. For some views, please take a look at this link to pictures from early April 2017.
We have been busy getting the dahlias in shape for 2018. George planted 14 new tubers Wed., May 23, 2018. We noticed the first new shoots about a week later. By June 1 there were 4 up and by June 3 there were 7. I planted beans on the same date and by June 3 15 of 18 had come. That will be enough for the beans! We are counting on all the dahlias coming back, but there are 4 in the new bed along the fence that might not sprout; they were saved (with little ceremony) from last year.
We have pictures there going back to 1985, the year we moved into the property. The beds as they look now George built in 2006. In 2017 we replaced two. At the end of 2017 we removed a couple of smaller beds and an old wooden barrel that had been along the fenceline for several years. We put down new sod there ins late April 2018.
This year the plants came from Swan Island Dahlias in Canby, Oregon (see this link). This company owns the address “dahlias.com,” which is pretty good; call them at 800-410-6540; info@dahlias.com.
George surveys dahlia offerings all year long and picks those we plant according to color and height. Blooming period is also a factor. We are learning to avoid those marked “late bloomers,” since, relative to other flowers such as zinnas, with which we have had great success, dahlias do not show color until late July or early August, and flowers that bloom later than that run up against an early frost date and so have a very short life.
This year we planted color groups together but have decided that it makes better sense to build contrast in each raised bed—yellow and red, white and purple, and so on. This was also the year when George started using tomato cages, inverted, to stabilize and contain each dahlia, and this has helped a lot. The plants are very tall, sometimes 4 or 5 feet, and they are very top heavy when they bloom, especially after rainfall or heavy dew. Stems break off and whole plants start to lean. The wide base of the inverted tomato cage has kept each plant stable, and some are as big as any we have grown in recent years.
Our first dahlia year was 2012. The link for August 2012 shows some marvelous flowers, a mix of dahlias and zinnias that year. In 2013 we plants many more, and in every year since then George has refined the mix.
Wiki says:
Dahlias grow naturally in climates which do not experience frost (the tubers are hardy to USDA Zone 8), consequently they are not adapted to withstand sub-zero temperatures.
However, their tuberous nature enables them to survive periods of dormancy, and this characteristic means that gardeners in temperate climates with frosts can grow dahlias successfully, provided the tubers are lifted from the ground and stored in cool yet frost-free conditions during the winter.
Planting the tubers quite deep (10 – 15 cm) also provides some protection. When in active growth, modern dahlia hybrids perform most successfully in well-watered yet free-draining soils, in situations receiving plenty of sunlight. Taller cultivars usually require some form of staking as they grow, and all garden dahlias need deadheading regularly, once flowering commences. [end of Wiki quote]

We have never been able to keep the tubers of the winter, lacking storage between 55 and 65 degrees, and we are happy to try out different colors and kinds of plants as the years go by. Tall and profuse, the dahlias put on a good show for weeks and weeks. Recently our recycler, who says he has been picking up recycling at our place for about 25 years, stopped to tell us how much he likes our “tall flowers.”