Healthy Soil is the Key to Healthy Dahlias

Good healthy soil was one of the main things we considered when we purchased our farm, because a foundation of soil health is essential for growing healthy food, flowers… and, of course, especially dahlias! 😉 So today we want to talk about the 4 most important things for cultivating healthy soil in your home garden.

Over the next 6 weeks, dahlia growers like you will be preparing garden beds and planting dahlia tubers all over the country. It’s so exciting! As you’re preparing, here are 4 of the most important things to consider when thinking about soil health.

  • Make sure your soil is friable, or simply put: loose. You can achieve this through tilling or double digging the earth in your garden, or (given enough time), through no-till practices which involve overwintering a cover crop and ”folding” it into the soil to invite earthworms, insects, and other invertebrate composters to enrich and aerate the ground in your garden. Loose soil gives your tubers space to grow under the ground, provides oxygen access to the expanding roots, can be penetrated by irrigation water, and supports all kinds of helpful subterranean creatures.
  • Make sure your soil drains well. Dahlias love growing in porous, sandy soil. Growing them in very heavy soil, like clay, can allow too much water to sit around the tubers, potentially causing them to rot during the growing season. Be sure your garden is in an area that drains well, and is not too low or prone to collecting puddles.
  • Make sure your soil has organic matter incorporated into it. If you do have heavy soil, consider adding in decaying leaves, compost, and sand. (Gardens with heavy clay-like soil should avoid adding only sand.)
  • Don’t overthink it. If you want to be very scientific about your soil, you can pay a small fee and arrange to take a sample of it to your local state college ag department or state department of agriculture for testing. However, most home gardeners don’t need this much information about their soil and it can be overwhelming trying to figure everything out, especially if you are a new dahlia grower. If you’ve made sure your soil is loose, drains well, and you’ve added in some compost or organic material, you will have set yourself up well for success.

Growing Dahlias in Raised Beds, Grow Bags, or Flower Pots

The soil in raised beds should have the same qualities listed above. If you’re constructing a new raised bed, it should be at least 12″ deep for dahlias and you can fill it with potting soil or 4-way soil from a local landscaping supplier in early spring. Large pots can also be filled in the same way, just before planting in spring. Dahlias in grow bags or pots will likely need to be watered more frequently than dahlias planted in the ground.

2 thoughts on “Healthy Soil is the Key to Healthy Dahlias”

  1. Hi,

    I just got my wonderful dahlia tubers. I live in coastal CT and the overnight temps are still in the high 40’s. I’ve always waited until the soil temp was 60 degrees. Can I plant my tubers now? The sil is definitely NOT 60 degrees.

    1. Hi Candace, You could wait a bit longer to plant since it’s still so chilly at night time. We are going to start planting our fields half way through May, so you aren’t behind if you wait a bit longer for the weather and your soil to warm up. ~Team Triple Wren

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