Sunday, March 16, 2014

One Crazy Gardener: Growing Dahlias on a Sand Dune

Last  year I Toed the Line...I grew Russian Mammoth Sunflowers on my sand dune. Granted, they were not mammoths. The largest bloom was only 20cm in diameter, and the tallest plant only 100cm tall. But against all odds, they did survive, and they were beautiful....
Sunflower: Cross Process, MR
This spring I Crossed the Line. I'm growing Dinner Plate Dahlias on my sand dune. I am now an officially Insane Gardener. I could find only one reference on the Web to growing dahlias on subtropical sand dunes, and it was from 2008.  The gardener in question was not happy. Her sandy, salty dahlias were not happy. Did this stop me from trying? No way. I want some of these! I bought some tubers....
"Graceland" Dahlia, courtesy of Wikimedia
Dahlia tubers from

The dahlia in the big blue pot sprouted first, and grew with incredible vigor. I could take it inside during storms and high winds. But when it began to outgrow the pot, I transplanted it outside with those that were already growing there. I had planted them in highly enhanced soil- a mild acidifier (soils here are very alkaline), lots of bunny poop fertilizer, compost, and commercial potting soil. I water them with filtered water or rainwater twice a day (they are so thirsty!) and use a weak, general fertilizer every other day. They get full morning sun and partial afternoon sun, and face east:
That was in February. Now they are all about 25cm tall and in full bud:
Here's a top view closeup of the brave creatures:
Dahlias at one month--buds!  

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