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Dahlia wilting and leaves turning brown

keithog
July 21, 2015
last modified: July 21, 2015

I've notice a few days ago that one of my Dahlias just started wilting and turning brown. I haven't been watering it recently so I don't know if it's that, but I was watering every other day before because it was really hot in the last few weeks. I've watered it just now to see if it comes back. Anyone know what the problem could be? I don't think it could be over watering as I was watering the other Dahlias the same amount and they're fine. Thanks!


Comments (22)
  • sequoiadendron_4

    My advice would be to stop watering it totally. Dahlias don't really need to get supplemental water unless you live in the desert. Their tubers are very sensitive to rot. Also, soil composition also plays a key roll. If you have this one in a slightly different soil than the others, or even in less sun, the same water could have a negative effect. I think of plants like humans in that the same thing for one person could have a different effect on another person. The top growth looks pretty good so I don't think your plant will be fine.

    keithog thanked sequoiadendron_4
  • PRO
    keithog

    Thanks, yeah I have stopped watering it now, although when I watered it on Tuesday it started looking a bit better, but I will leave it alone now and not touch it. Yeah I think it could be the soil too, because I've noticed other plants around the same area not doing so well either and not growing much compared to other plants in different areas in the flower bed. Hopefully it will be fine as it was growing fine before and I've just noticed the wilting and browning of the leaves recently.

  • sequoiadendron_4

    If it makes you feel any better, I wouldn't worry about the bottom leaves looking poorly. A lot of dahlia growers like to cut those off anyway so the tuber puts more energy into the blooms rather than the leaves. Your secondary shoot still looks good too. Sometimes dahlias wilt some in the hot, mid day sun only to spring back at dusk when things start cooling down. If you watered it before the plant recovered naturally, it would have given the illusion of 'getting better'. I don't know if this happened or not but that is just food for thought.

  • PRO
    keithog

    Ok, the bottom leaves have all turned brown anyway and are dead. Yeah they look ok still today the secondary shoots so hopefully they stay that way. Now that you mentioned about watering before it recovered maybe I did as I watered when it was wilting in the heat so maybe that's why? I have not been watering it now and left it alone.

  • cicivacation

    Personally, I'd be watering that poor thing either in the evening or morning, and making sure it gets fertilized. The lower leaves naturally look a bit ragged as the plant matures, but they shouldn't be turning completely brown!

    As long as the tuber roots are not SITTING in water, dahlias drink up the moisture as quick as it comes! They prefer moist soil, just not a constant pool of stagnant water. Just make sure that if you dig down two to six inches, you don't find standing water.

    Many show growers give steady amount of water with fertilizer to their plants every day to help bud development. Infrequent watering can cause smaller blooms and stress the plant, making it more susceptible to fungus and insect infection.

    Hope this helps, but in truth, there'd is only so much we can help from the Internet... We can't take into account all the variables in your particular situation, so we might be off the mark from innocent ignorance of all the facts.

    Cheers!

    CC

    keithog thanked cicivacation
  • sequoiadendron_4

    I don't know Cici. I never give my dahlias supplemental water or fertilizer. Mine are currently growing in a 70% clay 30% pea gravel, sand, vermiculite mixture and they haven't had any problems with drying out this summer. I don't grow them in pots above the ground though either. I actually hate container growing for this exact reason, which is that it's hard to judge how much water to give sometimes. I'm only speaking from my dahlia experience growing them in the ground, not in pots.

    keithog thanked sequoiadendron_4
  • cicivacation

    That's okay, we don't have to agree. Every circumstance is different. Lots of casual growers don't supplement their plants, and depending on their particular garden circumstances, are happy with whatever blooms they get in return.

    However, every advanced grower I have pestered about cultivating dahlias install a watering system (intermittent emitters, leaky hose, sprinklers) and use it regularly throughout the season when rain is not providing penetrating moisture. These folks are typically growing for show, and work tirelessly to optimize the potential of their dahlia plants.

    Speaking from experience, non-draining soil is what causes rotted tubers, not constant moisture.. I watched over a hundred plants drowning in too-low new beds this year, with nowhere for the constant rain to go... Meanwhile, over two hundred plants that received the same barrage of moisture in my old beds accepted every drop gratefully and are thriving today.

    keithog thanked cicivacation
  • sequoiadendron_4

    Cici, you're so friendly! It's refreshing :-)


    I'm not saying my dahlias wouldn't benefit from supplemental watering and fertilizer but I have many other plants to tend and only water things that are in need. I've only been growing dahlias for a couple years now and have learned a lot from trial and error. I'm certainly not an expert though. I am sorry to hear about your loss this season. It's really tough to go through all the work of planting them only to lose them. Where are you located? I have a friend from another site who lives in NE OH and he had lost several as well due to inundating rain.

  • cicivacation

    I'm in Northwest Pennsylvania. Yes, every year Mother Nature teaches something new if we pay attention, doesn't it?

    The new beds weren't a complete loss, though... I added leave mulch with the already-amended soil, and mounded two rows in each four foot by fifty foot rows, leaving a deep ditch between for extra water to settle. All the tubers were lost that were planted mid-May, but I took cuttings from the dying sprouts and replanted most of the varieties. I may get late blooms, but I'm more interested in saving the varieties over to next year. The new drainage should keep the roots from stagnating in the fall rains.


    drowned tubers...


    Rescued sprouts made into cuttings

    keithog thanked cicivacation
  • sequoiadendron_4

    Wow, that's quite a bed you have there. Do the dahlias root super easy? I thought it'd be difficult because of the hollow tube stems. Do you even have to use rooting hormone?

    keithog thanked sequoiadendron_4
  • PRO
    keithog

    Thanks guys for all your answers! About the watering, it has been raining here non stop so the Dahlia has gotten a really good watering today. I think it could be a water issue because it looks much better since it's been raining and it's not wilting anymore, the leaves at the bottom have turned brown and dried up though. I won't be watering that much though just in case I was watering too much for it to go like that.

    These are the pics I took today of it. Also I'm thinking the soil could be a problem because I've noticed the plants around that certain area are not doing so well either. The soil around that area is a bit rocky so I don't know if that's the problem.

  • cicivacation

    Now that looks much happier! Gently take the damaged leaves off from the bottom up... They won't improve once damaged, but will invite bugs to crawl up and feast.

    Probably needs fertilized in that area... This fall, I'd suggest working in compost, leaf mulch or grass clippings so it can invigorate the soil over the winter .

    keithog thanked cicivacation
  • cicivacation

    " Do the dahlias root super easy? I thought it'd be difficult because of the hollow tube stems. Do you even have to use rooting hormone?"

    The hollow stems happens when they are older, and don't root as well at that point. Rooting hormone is a big point of contention among dahlia growers... Half swear by it, and the other half say that it makes no difference. I have never bothered using hormone for dahlia cuttings, and have an excellent success rate. Each to their own.

    for more info on cuttings, search this forum and lots of info will come up.

  • PRO
    keithog

    Yeah the rain yesterday really seemed to help it, it looks much better now. I'll take all the dead/bad leaves off and just keep an eye on it. Oh ok I'll do that in the fall then! I do think the soil could be the problem too. Thanks for the info, I'll post some pics of it soon to show you how it's going!

  • Paula Underhill

    I started my bulbs inside on my window sill and have noticed a few leaves have turned black and have wilted. However the rest of the foliage is bright green shiny and healthy. Any advice???

  • cicivacation

    Strip off the blackened leaves immediately- they won't improve, and invite pests. Might even have pests ON them, and are trying to spread.

    Need more info... just lower leaves, or tops of the plant, too? What about water drainage? Is water trapped inside the container, or can it flow out easily? Do you have a fertilizing schedule? How much and how often?

  • Paula Underhill

    Just lower leaves and there is good drainage. I planted these 2 weeks ago and have fertilized them once.

  • Paula Underhill

    I can actually see where something is eating the leaves. how can I prevent this?

  • cicivacation

    Sometimes too much fertilizer can cause 'burn' on the plants... dahlia tubers don't really need any fertilizer for the first several weeks, as they are relying on the tuber for their nutrients. Once the feeder roots are well-established, the plants can take in water and added nutrients more efficiently, and it will not be as likely to burn them. So... for the first 3 weeks, take it easy on watering and fertilizing, then increase. Just make sure water comes out the bottom of the container so the fertilizer salts can drain out and not be trapped in the potting mix.

  • cicivacation

    " something is eating the leaves."

    hmm... that is rather vague. Could be lots of things, without more details.

    I'll assume it is something still on the leaves, like spider mites. Strip off the damaged leaves IMMEDIATELY, and hand-wash the plant with sudsy water starting from the top down. Be sure to lightly scrub the stem, too. Try not to get too much soap into the soil, but a bit is just fine, and will help get rid of other pests.

  • HU-135451292528139030

    I'm a first time wanna be dahlia grower. I'm hoping someone on here can help. I ordered some dinnerplate tubers from Swan Island. Followed directions to a tee. Put in ground in April. Had to replace 3 or 4 of them. How big should they be now? I live in South Carolina. We've had rain this season but obviously we've also had plenty of heat. Only one of them is about 18 in tall - the others less than a foot. Thank goodness I didn't spend anymore than I did. BTW - the mixed pkg I bougt from big box are easily 3 ft tall and are beginning to bloom. Is there anything I can do to save these dinnerplates? Sandy soil, have fertilized with 5-10-10 2x but only after tubers were established. Have used snail bait. Thanks

  • cicivacation

    If they are giant-sized, the plants may not bloom for another month or two. Typically, the smaller the flower, the quicker they start blooming, and the larger the flower, the later they open. Hard to tell for sure with the info you've given, but don't give up on them. Sounds like you're doing alright, and the plants just need time to grow.

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