My earliest blooms ever

Mentor, OH

After not having any blooms until September last year, I decided to start several dozen tubers a few weeks before planting time. I put several tubers in 24" planters. Since I don't have many windows that get a lot of sunlight, I carried them in and out of the house almost every day to a sunny area. We had frost warnings at the end of May, two weeks later than normal. By the time I was ready to plant they were beginning to get leggy and I wondered if they would make it. Right now almost all are looking great and blooming or budding. These photos are from the same plant. It's called Rebecca's World and every flower is reputed to be different. The solid burgundy one bloomed two days ago. I'm waiting on an all white one. Dan

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Mentor, OH

The first photo is a gallery dahlia named Singer. These short dahlias are always my first blooms. They are very dependable little plants. Second one is Clifton Tyler. It's a little out of focus. I have a few more plants blooming but they're not very photogenic right now because the Japanese Beetles have been merciless. I should have more soon.

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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Dan - so good to have you back again!

Your dahlias are lovely, as always. The first one is a fun plant with different blooms on it.

Hope you'll post more often now that you've got blooms.

We haven't had the JB's attacking the dahlias...yet. Their vacation time is up in two weeks anyhow but it would be annoying to see them go after dahlias. I'm used to them on roses but not dahlias.

Mentor, OH

Hi Arlene, I think the beetles are angry that I didn't put out a vegetable garden this year and are letting me know about it. I hope their little orgies end before the other dahlias bloom and get destroyed.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

JB's have no ethics or morals or they wouldn't carry on as they do in our gardens and in broad daylight!

I removed every rose and every rose bud (denying the deer their evening snacks) so the JB's had to find something and they found the clematises. We gardeners are a stubborn group and we fight to the end.

Only two weeks to go and the rest of your dahlias should be safe...we hope.

I did plant the Jamaica dahlia, which successfully overwintered, in with my red peppers and when it blooms (along with all the others) I will post photos. Thanks for that beauty.

Kenner, LA

Lovely images.

Mentor, OH

I appreciate the compliment MajiA. Our temps were in the '70's for the last week or so and the forecast shows more of the same for the next 10 days. The dahlias are loving it and really responding. It's a welcome change from the hot, humid weather we usually have about now.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I also have Jamaica which just opened. Lullabye, Rosemary, Laluna, Japanese Bishop, Patricia, Eileen and a red one whose name I can't remember. The hugest by far is Sweet Dreams. At least 48" tall, needs no staking as the main 'trunk' is about 1" thick and covered with 5-7" spiky lavender flowers. For some reason I got more of those tubers from one plant last year and more survived so I probably have up to half a dozen of them all over the yard. I am not cutting them up this year. I will let the plants freeze on top, wait a week or so to dig them up to wash and dry.I lost well over half last winter and they grew so early I lost more just trying to hold them in the garage. But even some of the spindliest are not sturdy plants, and some just amaze me at how big they are. I will try to figure out the new software on my new computer and get some pictures out today.

Mentor, OH

A few more have opened up but haven't reached their full size (I hope). These are some of the repeats from last year. 1.) Kelvin Floodlight 2) Hollyhill Starburst 3) Trelyn Rhiannon 4)Cynthia Huston 5) Clifton Tyler

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Mentor, OH

These three are first-timers for me. 1) Trooper Dan 2) Vassio Meggis 3) Wyn's Honey Spice. I'm so glad I started these early.

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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Your photos are always so good, Dan! I've had two of the dahlias you've just mentioned but love them all.

I'm actually getting buds and I planted later than ever! Today I even managed to stake and tie up AC Rainier. Many stems this year and no bugs.

Mentor, OH

Thanks Arlene. I was just outside checking for beetles and it just dawned on me that the photo I posted for HH Starburst is actually Kari Fruit Salad. I wondered why it wasn't a brighter red and white.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I'd never have known otherwise, Dan!

Trelyn R. never produced a lot of blooms for me but Vassio Meggos was bushy and always had a few in bloom.

Two roses are in full bloom in the back. Should I alert the JB authorities to send over a squad?

Mentor, OH

Arlene, when it comes to roses, I'd be more inclined to contact the "deer authorities". We've given up trying to grow roses. This Spring I was planning my vegetable garden and flower beds and a neighbor called and told me to look out my front door. There was a deer with it's front feet on the first step. She told me to look down the street. Her daughter lives three doors down and there were eleven more deer in her yard. I made a quick decision that there would be no vegetable garden this year. Too much work planting , weeding , watering and fertilizing only to see it get destroyed. Several weeks later I was thinking what a shame to let the garden space got to waste with all the work I"ve done working to improve the soil over the years. The idea hit like a lightning bolt.....MORE DAHLIAS!! I tilled an area 25" x40" and had to scramble finding anyone still selling tubers that late since I had given away over a hundred. I lucked out with many that were $1-$2. If they bloom this year it will probably be late but I had to try. Quite a few are budding.

Mentor, OH

A couple new blooms. 1) Akita. Very similar to the Vancouver Arlene sent me last year.which should be opening up any day. Vancouver was a great tuber maker. 2) Kenora Jubilee 3) Trelyn Rhiannon 4&5) Two more photos of Vassio Meggis. I'm really loving this one.

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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

The deer here, 24 in this herd, eat the new growth on roses, rose buds and often the actual roses whether they have JB's or not. Now I have the rose garden in the front blocked from the deer with trellises and some bird mesh that can't be seen from even 10' away.

We went through the angst of the deer attacking our vegetables and put up 8' high deer mesh. Then the crows dive bombed the tomatoes so Jack used copper piping and more deer mesh to create our "tomato room" in the vegetable garden. A snow storm in February 2012 weighed so heavily on the mesh that it bent the copper "roof" so he disassembled it and the crows had a field day with the tomatoes. Along with the heat wave, Jack caved in and turned the garden over to me. I had the path lifted and reset into a curve so now I have my safe haven and only grow tomatoes in the dog's pen (with mesh covering to keep the crows from attacking). Ours was just 20 x 30 but worked well for us for 20 years. Here's a before and after photo. Jack is opening the mesh door in the shot at the left.

So lucky that you thought of dahlias! Wonder how that happened. Glad you could find some and at bargain prices. I did see that Lynch's had a sale in mid-May at 50% off but the other big companies also had sales.

Vassio M. is such a delightful plant and the blossoms are so perfect.
Akita is such a great color.
Long ago on DG we used to talk about how the earwigs would attack white dahlias. Is that true for yours or not?

I have three opened and more buds so soon I'll be posting. Alert the authorities!

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Mentor, OH

That's a beautiful garden area, Arlene. I wish mine looked that neat. This will be the first time in over 50 years there hasn't been a vegetable garden on the property. That is going back to before my dad owned the property. The area was 25' x 75' and we crammed 8-10 dozen tomato plants in there every year. The city's deer hunt produced a harvest of well over 200 deer last fall. The problem is the remainder were pushed out of their little sanctuaries onto outlying areas and may be a bigger problem than before. Our earwigs don't seem to have any preference as far as the color of dahlias. Earlier this year, when the plants were young, they were everywhere in large numbers. I dusted with diatomaceous earth and later sprayed with Bayer 3-in-1. After that I only saw an occasional one curled up inside a leaf. A thumb and forefinger are deadly on those. lol

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

That's sad, Dan. There does come a time when situations arise that make it impossible to continue as before. Jack only gave up the garden last year when he was 82. He did enjoy the first tomato of the season as much as I did. No bugs, no blight of any kind, no blossom end rot, no problems! It was a volunteer from last year that I found growing as I planted the revised vegetable garden with annuals, clematises and roses in May. Having no other place for it I put it in an almost empty compost bin - no water (other than rain), no food, and glorious results. I have screening on top and in the front to keep out the crows and deer.

I jab at the earwigs with my scissors until I get them cut in half and often they're too dumb to just die. When I first spotted the earwigs, even before I planted the dahlias, I used Ortho's Bug Geta Plus and haven't had a problem.

What do you use for labels?

Do you use bamboo stakes? Have you tried the new fiberglass stakes? I love them! We have lots of rebar stakes but I'm always afraid I'll yank on one and get stuck in the eye.

What are you feeding your dahlias? I haven't fed them anything but they're doing well in the good earth that has had tons of compost added for the last 20 years.

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Mentor, OH

I have found the bamboo stakes a little hard to drive into the ground deep enough. They also seem to split in a short time. I was using rebar but was too lazy to paint it and hated seeing the rust. This year I started using 1/2" EMT conduit. Home Depot sells 5' sections for $1.37 ( 10' for $1.89 but a little bulky to get home ). It's coated to prevent corrosion. I normally use 5-10-10 fertilizer at planting time and about once a month afterwords with maybe a one-time foliar feeding of Miracle-Gro bloom booster. Last year the plants seemed to need a little nitrogen boost so I've been using 10-10-10 , especially since the local grocery store sells 3 lb. bags for less than $3.00. I make a chart of where each dahlia is planted and don't use labels in the garden. I only use labels when starting the tubers indoors. The best and cheapest labels I've used are the ones I cut from an old venetian blind. They cut easily with scissors and one blind can produce several hundred labels.

Mentor, OH

You're killing me! I can almost taste that tomato. There's nothing like a home grown tomato. I have several volunteer plants growing but I've been told the only seeds to make it through winter and come up in our area are cherry tomatoes. With the deer, I'll probably never find out anyway.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks for all of your help, Dan. I agree about the rebar - it's just not attractive. I'll take a photo of the fiberglass stakes tomorrow when it's not raining, though I do love this long, slow, constant rain, without wind.

I haven't seen the Home Depot stakes you mentioned so I'll Google them.

I did use Super Triple Phosphate as I planted the dahlias but nothing more. If I can remember I'll give them a dose of Bloom Buster. You did get a big bargain with a three pound container for $3.00!

As I designed the garden I did make a plan with the photos, on Picasa, and planted accordingly so I do have all the names. The ones I have problems with are anything new and trying to recall the name as I see them bloom. Attached is just a sample of one area. The difficult part for me is the blooms' color since photos online are often "adjusted" to show them at their best. The three to a package "Peaches 'n Cream" ended up being really confusing since some sites show drastically different heights. Add to that all the variations in the name and chaos is a strong possibility.

Ah, yes, I see we share that exciting pastime of cutting up old Venetian blinds! Such thrills that others don't share!

I hope those tomatoes will yield you at least one good cherry tomato and a larger tomato. Just bird mesh (hoisted on high stakes) will prevent the deer from munching. The deer were dining on cucumber leaves (wouldn't be my choice!) so now that area is also covered with bird mesh.

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Kenner, LA

Great work psudan and Arlene.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks for posting, MajiA. Dan and I didn't want people talking about the two of us all alone here!

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I, the lurker, can testify to the virtuous nature of the conversation. lol. I have been taking notes on fertilizer. I just put osmocote around mine ( but I don't have as many as you all) and then put a packet of Miracle Grow crystals in a 5 gallon bucket then fill with water. I have an attachment to the faucet that screws on and has a tube that I dump the end of into the 5 gallon bucket. As I water the garden it dispenses a nice 10-10-10 fertilizer. Can't complain about either the size of plants or blooms. Sweet Dreams is naturally large with 'stems' about an inch thick. No staking needed. And I try to plant them close enough so the slighter ones are supported by the hardier ones. And this year I am not cutting up the tubers. Just wash, dry, and store in whatever I can find that isn't too expensive. Then into the basement crawl space.

Mentor, OH

We can't even hide on a message board, Arlene. lol Those are beautiful dahlias. I have a new one this year called Grand Prix. The first bloom looks like a cross between Peaches 'n Cream and Seattle. Is that Bodacious in the middle photo on the bottom row? I remember you having that one before. I bought Bodacious from Michigan Bulb but got it planted late. Can't wait to see it bloom. I bought quite a few packaged tubers when I decided to fill in the garden area. They are all sold as clumps. I know a lot of people prefer the individual tubers but I don't recall any clumps ever failing to produce. Maybe the plant gets a boost from the extra tubers. I have some green fiberglass stakes. The ones I have are not very big in diameter and have a hard time holding some of the larger dahlias upright. I really like the EMT conduit for stakes. I can drive them into the ground as far as I want with my fencepost pounder. They seem very sturdy. Were you in need of the rain you're getting?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Thanks for the moral support, Mary! Neither you nor I have nearly as many dahlias as Dan.

Some of the stems this year are more like mini tree limbs while others are more on the normal side. I've never cut up tubers. I have enough to do to just get them packaged for the winter. Shredded straw (pictured below) worked very well over last winter with each tuber in a bag of its own and then they all went in giant sturdy plastic bags, covered with a blanket and a tarp. A few I hoped would survive didn't but they didn't look great as I lifted them last fall.

Rats, Dan. We're always being discovered!

It isn't Bodacious though I do have that in a garden closer to the house because I love it. There probably is a legit name but I don't know what it is. It reminds me of some of the "bad hair" type dahlias but produced a lot of blooms last year so it had to be the centerpiece of that particular area. Bodacious from 2010 is the second photo.

What do you consider as planting late? June, July? Most of mine only got planted in June.

I've never had a problem growing clumps and it feels more motherly doing so, as if we're giving them a better start, though that's probably debatable.

As for the diameter of the fiberglass stakes, I'd say similar to a Sharpie or a tad more. I used one of my own dead blow hammers to drive the stakes into the ground. I'm the only female around here who even knows what a dead blow hammer is!

Yes, the garden wanted some rain (aside from the regular irrigation system) and I wanted it for a day off. It's rough to be retired and have perfect weather and no reason not to work so I gave myself the gift of being lazy today - pure bliss.

Where is Todgor and his dahlias this year?


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Mentor, OH

I imagine the term "planting late" would have to be defined by region. I normally plant tubers mid/late May. This year I was still planting after the first of July. This has been the nicest summer weather we have had in a long time ( my opinion). We had several 90 degree days in early July and a period of about 3 weeks where there was rain in the forecast nearly every day. The weather has now settled and we've had a nice string of 70 degree days. The forecast for next week is showing 2 days with highs in the 60's. I go to the beach 2 or 3 days a week and although it's August, there are days when you almost need a jacket.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

It was only in the last few years that I planted any dahlias in May, thinking it was too risky. We used to plant out the tomatoes around May 27th when the soil temperature was 55 or above but the dahlias grew fine when I did try May planting. This year life got in the way so it was early to late June before I had them in the good earth.

I'm in agreement with you about this summer except for that 10 day heat wave that cooked all the lilies and most of the hydrangeas. This August has definitely been the best I can ever remember. It's actually cool out at 7:30 PM when I try to squeeze in one more job for the garden.

I can believe you might want a jacket at the beach! We do wear jackets and sweaters but we go from October through January for the peace and quiet and to search for driftwood.

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I also bought Grand Prix this year along with Marbles. They haven't bloomed yet. More heavy rain today. And since DH is bringing home around 30 salmon tonight caught at Chitna we will be processing fish all day tomorrow. Yuk. Laura is down in Houston for 10 days so no help there for a while. I am not sure she is hardy enough to garden in the rain. lol

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Since you have heavy rain I guess it's good timing to prepare the fish so you'll have it on the busy days.

Beautiful day here and the breeze feels wonderful.

Mentor, OH

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood. It's 71 degrees with a light wind. I don't know who appreciates this weather more, the dahlias or me. As the blooms open up I can see that I mislabeled a few tubers. Oh well, I like surprises. This first one is Hollyhill Starburst. The second one is Dutch Explosion. It looks a lot like Haley Jane. The last one is a group shot of Rebecca's World. It's planted by my tool shed and doesn't get quite enough sunlight and is getting a little too tall.

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Is that last one all one bush? What a variation.

Mentor, OH

Yes. it's one bush. I bought six of these and thought I had given all but two away. I messed up my labeling somehow and I have four of these blooming. It's hard to tell what I'll end up with. This is one of the three from the front yard after I deadheaded about 20 old blooms this morning. Great little bloomer.

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I should hope to shout. I need to see how many of the tubers you sent I have managed to hang on to. Someone here sent me three tubers of Nick, Sr. Two were iffy and the third was touch and go but I am pleased to say that I have a huge bush with a bud just starting to pop.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Looks like Mary and I are both a bit overwhelmed by Rebecca's World. It really is exceptional.

We were a bit warmer here than you, Dan, so I only worked for two hours and then one more hour after dinner but the early darkness is disappointing when I'm so loaded with energy.

Mentor, OH

Many buds are opening but I only have two new blooms. We had a high of 68 degrees yesterday and down to mid 50's last night. This cooler weather may be putting a damper on new blooms. Arlene, remember this Vancouver? Thanks again. The second one is one of my long--time favorites. It's Ferncliff Inspiration with a little beetle damage.

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Mentor, OH

Some groups shots of dahlias I've already posted. 1) Akita. This must be a very close relative of Vancouver. I hate rebar! 2) Trooper Dan. This plant is a little over two foot tall. 3) Cynthia Huston. Blooms are getting bigger, around 7". 4) Wyn's Honey Spice. This one has weak stems and I have to snug them up with tie tape. 5) Kelvin Floodlight. This may be my biggest KFL ever. It's about 9".

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(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Love that Vancouver, Dan. I'm glad I sent it to you.

You made me laugh with your rebar comment: my sentiments exactly. I'm now nearing the thought of using hoops (like peony hoops) for the dahlias that get to 3.5' tall.

I'm enjoying all your photos but that Honey Spice and Kelvin Floodlight are so beautiful.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

The only problem with the hoops is that while they hold up the bush really well the blooms still can droop if the stems cannot support the flower. I have been very lucky in that only one of my bushes has not been self-sustaining. Sweet Dreams is a monster and the weight of two sides together with blooms split the 1" trunk. I 'splinted' the break bringing the two halves together. Last year I used 1/2" square 4 and 6 foot stakes driven in the ground next to the tuber before planting. Uh, sunk the stakes in well and then planted the tuber next to them. And of course none but one ever needed the support. I am dedicating today to working on my photos to get them to DG before now flies. lol. My camera takes them too big. I have to resize down so they will load quickly or at all. The old DG wouldn't even accept some of them due to size.

Mentor, OH

At one time I had given some thought to using hoops for the dahlias until I realized how many I would need. I have about 40' of garden fencing that is 4' tall. I plan to cut it and make hoops for the peonies next spring. Other than the short bloom time, trying to stake peonies is the only reason I don't have more of them.

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