Growing ‘Kelvin Floodlight’ Dahlias…and Failing.

Hi Lovelies,

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I think these big, bright yellow blooms are absolutely gorgeous!

One of my main missions this year was to document my failures and successes in the garden. This season started pretty disastrous and it wasn’t until recently that I’ve felt as if I’ve finally somewhat pulled it all together. Alas, some victories are not meant to be had.

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Bugs, strong wind, heavy rain. You get the idea.

This week I’ll be taking a look at a dahlia that I’ve grown for the past couple years – ‘Kelvin Floodlight’ (we’ll say, ‘KFL’ for short). KFL is one of those dahlias that seems to be readily available most places online, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve even seen it being sold in my local supermarket at one point or another.  Regardless, being able to obtain large no. 1 sized tubers at a modest price was a major draw for me.

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Even though this plant is only around 3ft tall, its already produced three large blooms. ‘Topping” the dahlias has really helped them to produce better quality flowers this year.

The very first season I grew KFL, nothing happened. Well, let me be more specific, none of the plants flowered. Bummer. As it happened, I had made the mistake that any rookie could have, and planted them in an area in my yard that just didn’t get enough sun. This, paired with a fertilizer high in nitrogen, led to green leafy plants almost 5ft high. Even more disappointing! The next season was better, though this time, I didn’t bother to support my plants. Ugh! The big yellow blooms and branches flopped onto the ground. I was able to pick the flowers, but they were usually covered in slugs, bugs, and mud. I couldn’t help but think that I must be one of the worst dahlia growers on the entire planet! The third year, I was determined to get it right!

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Beating the bugs to the blooms can be quite the task. My dahlias are surrounded by grass, I think this may be the main source of increased insect pressure. Next year, I’m going to try planting them into prepared and amended flower beds.  Maybe I can cover them with mesh bags? Who knows. 

KFL is often advertised as a “dinnerplate’ dahlia, meaning that you can expect very large blooms. It has certainly lived up to its description here, with blooms about 8 inches across. I can imagine exactly where the name ‘floodlight’ came from, too, as flowers are a very bright (almost fluorescent in photos) yellow color. The first bud began to open in my garden around July 26th, though others didn’t consistently bloom until about a month later, towards the end of August. This could have been due to some really wonky weather, so I’m sure it all depends on the season and location.

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Looks like this cucumber beetles has made himself at home while eating away the unfurled petals of this bloom. Ugh!

This year, KFL is enjoying full sun, great support, great drainage, and a good foliar feed. In return for this favor, they’re blooming like crazy. However, I’ve now got another problem. You see, it seems that KFL is the most attractive plant in my entire garden. “Wait…” you say, “don’t you want your plants to look nice?”. While I do appreciate the beauty, the have bugs flocked to these things like nothing I’ve ever seen. Japanese beetles, cucumber beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers… I’ve seen them all stopping to have a snack. Quite a conundrum for someone who hates to spray anything in the garden. I did try my usual soapy water mix to solve the problem, but the dahlias were simply too delicate. I did more harm than good, so it’s not something I suggest anyone tries. How do you deal with bugs on your dahlias? For now, I’ll stick to handpicking and hoping that beneficial insects continue their hard work!

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Of course, Japanese beetles like them too.

For now, I plan on keeping KFL in my garden – even though the insects love it just as much as I do! Have you ever grown KFL? Did you love it? Not so much? I love to hear your comments! Hope you’re having a great day! Much love!

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