Growing Stunning Dahlias
Author: JM Date Posted:31 August 2018
In the last decade or so Dahlias have been experiencing a bit of a resurgence in popularity after languishing for many years in that area of ' I'm not sure if they're tasteful enough for my garden', but now that we seem to have shrugged off the insecurity of the 'white only' garden gardening with flowers has a bright future and that includes includes the Dahlia.
Of all the perennials we grow for our summer displays the Dahlias probably contribute the most colour and we would be hard pressed without them to achieve the 'saturated effect' to which we aspire.
They come in a great range of colours, heights and flower form so with a bit of experimenting a lot of them can be fitted into a relatively small space.
Growing Dahlias is really quite straight forward and they are very forgiving of a bit of neglect.
Planting newly arrived tubers
Dahlia tubers often arrive in the post or are bought in packets from the nursery looking a bit worse for wear. The tuber can be shrivelled to the point where you would think it will not recover but they are amazingly resilient and with a little care will bounce away without any trouble. In the same way as Ranunculus and Anemone corms are plumped up before planting in the autumn we like to plump up our new Dahlia tubers in pots before planting them out in the garden or trial beds. In taking this little extra care we ensure they won't rot if the weather if the soil is unseasonably cold
Staking and Labelling
We stake each plant as we are planting them to save skewering the tubers later on in the growing season. If large stakes are going to mar the garden whilst the plants are growing then smaller stakes can be used initially and replaced with taller ones later. The point is to mark where the stake will go.
For labelling we use a small piece of green hose with the name written in paint pen . We just slide this over the bamboo canes at planting time and in autumn when the tubers are being lifted it goes in the box with them.
If your bed has been well prepared with plenty of well rotted compost and some blood and bone then your Dahlias will not need much more for the season other than maybe a liquid feed with Seaweed or Fish Emulsion. The thing they most appreciate is an even soil moisture.
Tipping out the plants when the main shoot is about thirty centimetres tall makes for longer stems and more flowers when the plant starts flowering and is well worth the little extra trouble.
Pests and Diseases
In general Dahlias are remarkably pest free but depending on the season the lush new foliage can be marred by whitefly and aphids - a bit of pest oil will take care of both.
Dahlias need to be allowed to senesce in their own good time In mil, frost free areas this will be a long process often taking until mid-winter before the plant has given in to the cold. In colder areas frost will bring the plants growing season to an abrupt halt after which the tubers can be lifted.
The great thing about Dahlias is the ease with which a clump can be divided even after just one season.
It is really quite a simple process.
Start by removing as much of the dried soil as possible , give the clump a good wash so you can see where you are going and the start dividing by impaling your knife or it could be an old screw driver into the largest stem in the clump. Prise the clump apart to make two smaller clumps. It will then be obvious how to keep cutting down the dried stems to create pieces which have a small section of old stem with two or three tubers attached. Don't be greedy , pieces with extra tubers will get away to a better start than those without.
Dahlias need to be stored in a frost free area in a shed or garage. If some of the soil is left on the clump it will help keep them from shrivelling but the soil cannot be heavy clay as this can stay too cold and wet for too long so if you are gardening with this type of soil it should be washed off before storing and the clump nestled in a box of saw-dust, bark or old ( but dry) potting mix and at a stretch old dry leaf litter.