Learn all about the best fertilizers for dahlia flowers here.
Dahlias are a stunning flower that produce hundreds of blooms through the growing season. These gorgeous flowers come in many colors and shapes and make wonderful cut flowers.
But dahlias are heavy feeders, and if they don’t receive the right nutrients they will not produce as many blooms and the entire plant can become weak.
Luckily, today we are going to share the best fertilizers for dahlias that will allow them to thrive.
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The Best Fertilizer For Dahlias (Nutrients Needed)
The best plant food for dahlias is a low nitrogen fertilizer, often with an NPK ratio of 6-24-24 or 5-10-10. You will notice that the second two chemical numbers are double the first number.
This is because dahlia flowers crave a fertilizer high in potassium and phosphorous and low in nitrogen. This type of fertilizer is often referred to as bloom food, as it encourages the plant to produce more blooms.
Giving your dahlias the right amount of fertilizer can make a big difference in the size and amount of blooms produced.
Composted steer manure and commercial fertilizer are two common fertilizers that work well for dahlias.
Steer manure can be mixed into the soil at planting time, while commercial fertilizers are applied during the growing season.
Dahlias are heavy feeders, which means they require a rich supply of nutrients in order to thrive and produce plentiful blooms.
They can boast huge beautiful blooms and produce hundreds of flowers per season. This prolific flower production uses a lot of energy: thus the need for fertilizer.
Continue reading to get our list of the 8 best fertilizers for dahlias, and how different types of fertilizers affect the plant.
Did you know? If you pinch the main stem of a dahlia plant when it is young the plant will branch out and produce more stalks. These bushier plants will produce more blooms!
Our Top 8 Dahlia Fertilizer Recommendations
Here are our top eight fertilizers that can easily be purchased on Amazon:
Miracle Gro Bloom Booster
Miracle Gro is a popular flower fertilizer that can work well for feeding dahlias. When used as directed it can help prevent over feeding and burning your plants with too much nitrogen. We have used the Miracle Gro bloom formula on dahlias over the years and have had good results with bloom production.
Dr Earth Organic Flower Fertilizer
This popular organic flower fertilizer is made from bone meal, alfalfa meal, rock phosphate and sulfates. It is a powerful natural fertilizer that will nourish the dahlia tubers and gets rave reviews from flower growers.
Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster
Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster has a perfect NPK ratio for dahlias: 10-30-20. This popular water soluble flower fertilizer can be used every two weeks by blending with a gallon of water and applying to plants. Make sure to read through the amazon reviews to see all the rave reviews from flower growers on this amazing fertilizer.
Hawaiian Bud And Bloom
Grow More Hawaiian Bud And Bloom is a phosphorous rich water soluble fertilizer that is formulated for tropical and flowering plants. This is a popular fertilizer that helps stimulate bloom production. If you already have phosphorous rich soil, however, you can skip this fertilizer as it is very phosphorous rich.
Scotts Super Bloom
Scott’s Super Bloom is another reputable water soluble liquid bloom fertilizer. This flower fertilizer also has a high phosphorous rate and low nitrogen, promoting prolific, full blooms. Use as directed to prevent over fertilizing or burning your plant. Many reviewers state they prefer Scott’s Super Bloom to Miracle Gro, so we plan to give this fertilizer a try on our dahlias.
Lily Miller Bulb and Bloom Food
Lily Miller Bulb and Bloom Food is a slow release fertilizer rich in phosphorous and potassium. This is a more gentle formula that can be used on any soil makeup. An amazon reviewer writes: “This is the best ever for our dahlias. Have been using it every month during the flowering season & the bees, butterflies & neighbors all enjoy the mass of flowers. Highly recommend to all my friends who are growing dahlias for the best results.”
Flower Fuel Bloom Booster
Flower fuel bloom booster is a very concentrated liquid feed that features high available phosphorous and potassium and very low nitrogen. This bloom booster is great if you are in a dry, drought like environment with poor soil. It will help promote large flower buds, but be careful not to overuse it.
Down To Earth Organic Bone Meal
Bone meal provides ready to go phosphorous and calcium that will support the strong root development of your dahlia tuber. The phosphorous in the product will assist in energy towards strong, beautiful flower blooms. Mix in with soil at time of planting.
Now that you have some ideas for different fertilizers, you can continue reading for more information on how different types of fertilizers work, how and when to fertilize, soil testing and overall dahlia plant health:
What Is NPK Ratio?
The NPK ratio stands for Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium. These chemicals are available in fertilizers and help the plant grow and thrive. Each chemical has a different purpose:
- Nitrogen promotes healthy leaves and foliage
- Phosphoric acid is responsible for healthy root development and the production of blooms and fruit
- Potassium helps strong flower and root development + aids in the overall function of the plant
When feeding flowers, too much nitrogen and not enough phosphorous and potassium can result in more foliage and not as many blooms.
A balanced fertilizer has an equal number NPK, such as 10-10-10. When feeding dahlias, look for a NPK ratio where Nitrogen is around half that of Potassium and Phosphorous (like 5-10-10).
Pssst…. The best fertilizer won’t do your dahlia plants any good if you are planting in poor soil! Dahlias love well draining, fertile soil and thrive in full sun. Make sure you give your dahlia plants those two basic requirements before adding dahlia fertilizer. Dahlias will not grow in cold soil, so if you plant them yearly wait until the soil has warmed to 55 degrees. Read our guide to growing dahlias here.
Benefits Of Fertilizer For Dahlias
Giving your dahlia flower the right type of fertilizer at the right time will have many benefits:
- Encourage proper growth of the plant and healthy foliage
- Increases the amount of blooms
- Helps promote stronger, better stems
- Strengthens the plant, helping prevent disease
- Encourages healthy tuberous roots, resulting in a strong plant
- The additional fertilizer can encourage strong roots and larger flowers
- Stronger stems and beautiful flowers will promote a longer dahlia bouquet vase life
Types Of Fertilizer
As mentioned above, there are many types of fertilizer to choose from when feeding dahlias.
Here we review the different types of fertilizers, what they are used for, and how to use them.
(Do not use all of the fertilizers on this list! First test your soil and adjust from there. A good approach is to choose a soil amendment before planting, and then either use slow release fertilizer or liquid fertilizer regularly during the bloom season.)
Steer manure is an excellent low nitrogen fertilizer that can be used as a soil amendment when planting dahlias. Blend steer manure into soil when preparing the garden beds for dahlias.
Steer manure can be purchased at most garden and farm supply stores.
Do not use chicken manure: it has a high nitrogen level and is not the best option for dahlias.
A slow release fertilizer like Bulb + Bloom Food by Lily Miller will break down slowly over time in your soil. This fertilizer has an NPK of 4-10-10, featuring less nitrogen and more phosphorous and potassium.
Slow release fertilizers will release fertilizer from their granular form slowly over the course of 4 to 6 weeks. For best results apply once per month during the blooming season (July through first frost).
A liquid fertilizer will deliver nutrients to a dahlia plant quickly and help the plant develop healthy tubers, stalk, foliage and flowers.
Look for a low nitrogen liquid fertilizer and apply following the schedule. Liquid fertilizers are mixed with a gallon of water before applying.
Look for a high quality, organic liquid fertilizer with a low nitrogen level, and follow the feeding instructions and schedule. This will encourage the plant to put it’s energy into growing beautiful flowers.
Liquid fertilizer should be used with care: because of the quick uptake and availability of the fertilizer, it can burn the plants roots. Do not overdo it with liquid fertilizers when feeding dahlias, and if you have a soil that is nutrient dense, you may opt for a fertilizer with a lower phosphorous number.
You do not need to use both a slow release fertilizer and and a liquid fertilizer. Choose one or the other to avoid over fertilizing your dahlia plants.
Bone meal is an organic fertilizer that is full of phosphorous and calcium. The best time to apply bone meal is when planting dahlia tubers: simply mix it into the soil. This encourages healthy tuber growth and strong plants.
The phosphorous in bone meal will feed the tubers and help them to develop a strong root system.
To use, mix several tablespoons of bone meal into the soil when planting dahlia tubers. You can also work bone meal into the soil around the perimeter of the plant.
A word of caution: dogs can be attracted to bone meal and may dig in the area where it is applied. This fertilizer can be toxic to dogs, so use caution if you have furry friends around.
A tomato food such as Lily Miller can be used to feed dahlia flowers as it has a low nitrogen content and will promote blooms. The potassium in the tomato fertilizer will stimulate blooms on both tomato plants and dahlias.
Since they are low in nitrogen, coffee grounds can be an excellent fertilizer for dahlia plants. The nitrogen content of coffee grounds is around 2%.
You can often pick up coffee grounds for free from coffee shops. Coffee grounds increase the acidic level of soil, so take into consideration your current soil pH level and use with caution.
How+ When To Fertilize
Fertilizing dahlias should be done at two separate times:
When preparing the soil:
When preparing the soil, you can give the dahlia tuber an extra boost by adding bone meal to the soil. You can also amend the soil by adding composted steer and cow manure to the soil.
During the growing season:
From there, fertilize dahlia plants during their growth and bloom season. Follow the instructions on the back of your chosen slow release or liquid fertilizer. Keep in mind that if you have phosphorous rich soil, you do not need to fertilize as regularly.
Dahlia flowers need well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
Sandy soil can be amended by mixing in steer manure and decaying organic matter such as leaves or compost.
Clay soils need to be adjusted to have better drainage. Peat moss can be added to heavy soil to make it more porous. Adding in compost and decaying leaf litter can also help break up clay soil to make it more nutrient dense and well-draining for the dahlia garden.
No matter what kind of garden soil you have, it can usually be improved with organic matter and composted manure. But if you already have phosphorous rich, healthy soil, then look for a fertilizer that has a lower amount of phosphorous, and skip the formulas with super high phosphorous levels.
A crucial step to fertilizing dahlias is understanding your the soil quality where planting.
Knowing the chemical makeup of your own soil will help you choose which essential nutrients you need to add.
If your soil is already phosphorous and potassium rich, you may not need to use a lot of fertilizer. And if you have poor soil you will definitely want to add in composted manure and fertilizer throughout the growing season.
You can easily test your soil with a soil testing kit bought online. MySoil test kit is easy to use and has accurate results. From here you can do proper soil preparation specific to the chemical makeup of your soil.
Signs You Need to Feed Dahlias
If your dahlia plants need more fertilizer, they will let you know with a few tell-tale signs:
- Your plant may produce less blooms, or not produce blooms at all it
- Dahlia plant growth may be stunted
- Unfed plants may have weak stems and not produce as many branches
Negative Effects Of Too Much Fertilizer
Can you over fertilize dahlia flowers? YES! Too much fertilizer can cause yellowing leaves, weakened stems and an overall decline of plant health.
The best approach to fertilizing dahlias is to amend the soil when planting, then fertilize once per month during the bloom season, or according to your soil quality and fertilizer instructions.
And if you have healthy, rich soil, go easy on the soil amendment and fertilizers.
Overall Plant Health + Care
Dahlias are fairly easy to grow but crave warmth + sunlight: they will not thrive until all danger of frost has passed.
In addition to fertilizer, you can keep your dahlia plants healthy by giving them at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Morning sunlight that fades to shade in late afternoon will provide a perfect growth environment for your flowers.
Dahlias appreciate moist, well draining soil. Plan for deep watering at least once a week during mild weather and more frequently as hot weather increases during late summer. (Arid and hot climates will need more frequent watering).
Because of their large flower heads, many dahlias need support by staking with flower stakes or tomato cages.
How To Increase Dahlia Blooms
Fertilizing your dahlia plant is just one way to ensure big, beautiful blooms. These tips will also increase flower production:
- Make sure to plant your dahlia in full sun! Shaded dahlias will have weak stems and create leggy plants as the stems are forced to reach after sunlight.
- Pinch out the center stalk of the dahlia plant when it is just a few inches tall. This will cause the plant to branch out and create a bushier, fuller plant with more blooms.
- Prune old blooms right away in order to see new growth. The plant will branch out and create even more flowers when pruned properly. (Learn the best way to prune dahlia flowers here).
Yes, the right kind of Miracle Grow can encourage the growth a beautiful plant, but there are different kinds of Miracle Gro so be sure to purchase the right formula. Use a bloom specific formula that features an NPK ratio with a higher phosphorous and lower nitrogen level. We recommend Miracle Gro Bloom Booster.
Organic composted steer manure is a good option for mixing into the soil for dahlias. Organic bone meal can be mixed into the soil at time of planting and Dr Earth Organic Flower Fertilizer can be applied during the growing season.
You can get more blooms on your dahlia flowers by planting them in full sun, giving them enough of the right nutrients, and deadheading the flowers regularly. Dahlias will produce hundreds of flowers per plant when deadheaded properly. They will bloom to the end of the season, but spent blooms must be dead headed regularly (learn how here).
Epsom salt can promote a bushier plant, healthier roots and increase flower production. The minerals found in Epsom salt can promote flower blooming and increase the green vibrancy of plant foliage.
Be sure to use a water soluble formula specific for plants and follow the instructions on the label.
Yes, Bone Meal is good for dahlias. Mix bone meal into the soil at time of planting your dahlia tubers. The calcium and phosphorous in the bone meal will promote a strong root system and healthy flower production.
When fertilizing dahlias, seek out a fertilizer with little nitrogen and higher amounts of phosphorous and potassium.
Steer manure and commercial slow release fertilizers are both popular options.
We recommend blending composted manure into the soil before planting, then feeding your dahlias once a month during blooming season with a highly rated fertilizer. There are many flower fertilizers to choose from. We’ve enjoyed Miracle Gro bloom formula with good success.
Giving your dahlias the recommended amount of the right kind of fertilizer will allow for vigorous growth and lots of blooms. You’ll be swimming in lush bouquets of healthy dahlia flowers all summer!
Treating your dahlia tubers to a little extra love and care will ensure your plant is healthy and produces flowers all summer long!