Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Gothic Greenthumb: Doomed Dahlias


Calling it Quits!

One of the most defeating experiences a gardener can have is when their plants simply seem to give up and die off. I've grown dahlias before, it's not like I'm new to them. I knew things weren't going stellar once my one plant started to bloom...and the other three were going leggy with no buds in sight. I tried a stiff watering schedule, fertilizing, pruning and moving the pots around, but still it ended in tragedy. 

Last year my problem was earwigs. I hate those crusty looking fuckers. They chewed up my blooms and the foliage, leaving holes in just about everything. The hot and humid weather had created prime living conditions for earwigs, who normally feed off of dead plant life and other insects. When conditions are right, earwigs will inhabit containers (because they are kept warm and moist) and they will feed off of new vegetation for no other reason than because they can. Yep. Assholes. But the big difference is that last year my dahlias still bloomed and survived. This year they grew leggy, pale and deformed. My Sunburst (right) and Cupcake dahlia (photo above), were the only dahlias to bloom. I noticed the Cupcake was growing more pale in colour. What was once a rosy pink was slowly becoming white. I figured something was happening to the soil. Changes in the acidity or alkalinity in the soil can often have effects on the colour of blooms, particularly in plants like hydrangeas. This is sadly not the case for my plants.

It turns out that when blooms begin to lose their colour the plant has a virus. I looked over the leaves of each dahlia plant yesterday and sure enough there were signs of disease; the leaves were spotted, veiny, curling, deformed or dying off completely. I knew that my dahlias had been leggy but I assumed they weren't getting enough sunlight, instead I guess they were so ill they were trying desperately to get their nutrition from the sun and the virus wasn't allowing that. What are my options? Well, some botanists are doing trials using chemotherapy. *Scoff* Because that's how far I'm willing to go for my garden. The only option is to dispose of the afflicted plants, all of them!

When throwing away my orange dahlia, I caught a disgusting sight of nearly 100 earwigs festering in the bottom of the container. There's no doubt in my mind these wretched creatures caused the demise of my beloved dahlias and in turn decimated 2/3 of my garden! And before any entomologists come to their defense, it's known that insect bites to plant foliage leave the plant susceptible to viruses! Sadly, other than killing each earwig by hand or through oil traps (which only catch a couple at a time) there's no solution. Even soap sprays can only kill on contact. It's hopeless. :(

All you can do is mourn the loss of your plant and throw it away. I'm not sure about growing dahlias next year. If the projected forecast calls for another hot and humid summer I won't even bother buying dahlias. Instead, I think I'll buy more snapdragons and pansies. These are the only flowers that have grown without issue. They bounce back readily with a good thorough watering and they're beautiful in their simplicity. I highly recommend them. In fact, one of the ways I coped with my loss was to eat a piece of gluten free vegan carrot cake, drink a cup of strawberry tea and admire a bouquet of Halloween Pansies!



Sending best wishes and good gardening luck your way~
Best,

8 comments:

  1. very jealous of all of you with garden space!

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    1. I don't have much space but I try to make the most of it! Hopefully sometime next year I'll be able to upgrade to a full backyard (probably wishful thinking but we'll see).

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  2. Ouch - sorry about your Dahlias. I think switching to another type of flower less enjoyed by the earwigs is a good idea.

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    1. It's a bummer to say goodbye to these flowers, I adore them, but that's two years in a row that I've had trouble with earwigs. :( I'll have to try something else and go back to dahlias when I'm 100% sure of a cool summer.

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  3. I am so sorry!!! I hate earwigs!!! I know for myself, since it has been so hot, I have cut back many of my plants, because otherwise, the water bill would be huge! The carrot cake looks really good!

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    1. It's been a scorcher here, I'm surprised we haven't had water ristrictions put in place. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before we do! I only have a few plants to care for now so it's not so bad, less maintenance, but my garden sure looks skimpy lol.

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  4. Eeeuuwww - earwigs :( I'm very sorry about your (otherwise beautiful looking) dahlias. I didn't know you had a little garden! More pictures please!
    I'm not huge on flowering plants, I mostly grow edibles and herbs, but every spring I buy pansies, every summer petunias.

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    1. I wish I could post more pics but my garden is in a neutral state right now. I had to cut back the petunias because they were overgrown and the rose bushes just aren't flowering as much. :( My Westerland rose, a new peach rose I added this year, refuses to grow! I'm having no luck with gardening. My herb garden isn't much better; my cilantro died off, my rosemary never saw the light of day, the parsley is leggy, the only thing succeeding is mint and that's because it's an invasive species lol. I'd like to try a vegetable garden some day but knowing my luck it'll tank. XP

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