Growing Dahlia Seedlings Page 1

Growing dahlia seedlings is an adventure. Your are searching for treasure and 99.8% of the time you will come up empty handed. However, the anticipation and excitement are a thrilling addition to any dahlia season. And who knows, maybe that bud which is just opening will be another Edna C or Kidd's Climax.

In 1997 we had a banner seed production year and for the first time ever we were able to undertake growing a large number of seedlings. This is how we did it.

Seeds are started the first week in March in standard ten row tray inserts filled with a fine seed starting mix. Seeds are planted about 1 inch apart and covered to a depth of about 1/4 inch. Each planted row is watered as needed to keep the soil damp, but not soggy. Outside rows need water more frequently than inside rows.

Seeds will germinate in 7-21 days under a variety of conditions. Percent and speed of germination will be greatly increased by providing bottom heat. Heating cables are wonderful and the warm top of an old refrigerator or freezer will do almost as well.

When the plants have reached the point where they have two or more sets of true leaves (about five weeks) it is time to transplant.

In order to conserve effort, we let the plants stay a little longer in the seed trays, and transplant them directly into jumbo six packs filled with soilless potting mix. There are a number of good mix-your-own and pre-mixed potting soils. Our personal preference is Scotts/Sierra Metro Mix-350.

The jumbo six packs are filled and tamped using the bottom of another filled six pack.

A dibble is used to start a planting hole in each cell.

The hole is then firmed and enlarged using the traditional index finger. Hole should be large enough and deep enough to accept the root-ball of the seedling.

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