Hello! Dahlia

August 22, 2002 - 08:13

Available in seven colorful choices, this Dahlia eliminates the need for double sowing.

With the new Hello! Dahlia, you can say goodbye to past
problems associated with seed dahlia, including double-sowing to avoid low and
inconsistent germination rates. Hello! offers exceptional germination rates,
excellent seed uniformity and is easy to produce as a bedding plant or as a
premium, potted product.

Germination

Sow Hello! in 288-count or larger plug trays; it is not
necessary to provide light for germination. Cover seeds lightly with coarse
vermiculite to maintain moisture levels. Media should barely be moist to the
touch or one on a scale of one to five, with one being nearly dry and five
being saturated. Media EC should be 0.5-0.75, pH should be 5.5-5.8 and
temperature should be 68-73º F.

Once the first true leaves begin to emerge, the media should
be allowed to dry to the touch between waterings. At this point, the
temperature can be lowered slightly to 65-70º F, and fertilization can
begin at 50-75 ppm nitrogen using a calcium-based fertilizer. Fertilization can
be increased to 100-150 ppm nitrogen when the roots are penetrating the plug
cell and the second set of true leaves is present. If necessary, B-Nine can be
applied at 750-1,500 ppm in the plug tray. When the roots hold the plug mass
together easily and there are at least 2-3 sets of true leaves, Hello! is ready
to transplant.

Growing On

Hello! shows best in 4- to 5-inch pots. Select a porous,
well-drained media and plant plugs somewhat deep to produce a more stable
plant. Media pH should be 5.8-6.2. Maintain moderate moisture levels while
continuing to allow media to dry to the touch between waterings. Do not let the
plants wilt; too little water will produce small plants. Using a complete
fertilizer with micronutrients, constant liquid feed at 150 ppm nitrogen
maintaining a media EC of 0.8-1.0. After transplant, temperature can be raised
slightly to 68-72º F for 10 days to stimulate root development. After
these 10 days, the temperature can be lowered slightly to 65-70º F.
Temperatures below 62º F will slow plant growth and produce more compact
plants, while temperatures above 80º F will inhibit flower initiation.

Other Must-Knows

Light. It is
extremely important to note that dahlias want to form tubers under short days.
This makes it necessary to provide night interruption lighting or extend days
to 12-14 hours in order to suppress tuber formation.

PGRs. Hello! has excellent natural branching, and no
pinching is necessary. If necessary, Hello! responds to B-Nine at 750-1,500
ppm.

Pests/Diseases.
Thrips, red spider mites, whitefly, aphids and leafminers are sometimes found
on dahlia. Botrytis, mildew and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus are also occasionally
found with dahlia.

Scheduling. A crop
of Hello! in 4- to 5-inch pots can be produced in 9-12 weeks. Plug crop time is
3-4 weeks, and a 4- to 5-inch crop can be finished in 6-8 weeks from
transplant.

Hello! comes in six separate colors and a mix. Colors
include White, Yellow Shades, Bronze Shades, Scarlet Shades, Rose Shades and
Pink Shades.

About The Author

Martyn Phillips is the trials coordinator for Goldsmith Seeds in Gilroy, Calif. He can be reached at (866) 224-3877 or E-mail at martyn@goldsmithseeds.com.

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