Plant of the month – Dahlia

After my visit to Mainau Island, i was so impressed with the Dahlia display that i decided to make it my plant of the month.

Dahlias have actually always been one of my favourite flowers. During my childhood my parents had Italian neighbours for many years who grew Dahlias. They would have so many and would bring them into my Mum all the time. From there i think they kind of stuck with me.

Dahlias are invaluable for the summer border, in patio containers or as cut flowers, often flowering until the first frosts. With many excellent recent introductions, they offer a wide range of flower types, often with very showy, double forms in warm vibrant colours. Dahlias are enjoying a much deserved return to popularity.

Dahlias are easy to grow but do need winter protection in most parts of Europe. They are tolerant of a wide range of soil types and situations but best planted in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun when danger of frost is over.

  • Incorporate plenty of organic matter (one or two buckets per sq m/sq yd) such as well-rotted manure into the soil prior to planting and use a general purpose fertilizer, according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Plant tubers in their flowering position. Tubers should be planted 10-15cm (4-6in) deep
  • Stake as required and pinch out shoots to promote bushiness (see pruning and training below)
  • Keep well watered and once flowers appear feed with a high potash liquid feed every two weeks from July to early September

Lifting and storage 

– Cut down foliage and use a fork to carefully prise plants out of the soil.

– Dry off naturally and then clean away any soil clinging to the tubers. Trim stems to 15-20cm. If the tubers have been washed, position them upside down in a cool place for a few weeks to dry off.

– Trim off any fine roots.

– Place tubers in shallow wooden boxes or open trays and pack with a peat-free compost or dry sand, just covering the tubers but leaving the crown exposed.

– Store in a dry, cool, frost-free place. If stored in a garden shed cover with newspaper if a hard frost is predicted.

– Inspect tubers regularly during winter for rotting and discard any that are unhealthy.

Pruning and training Dahlias

– Insert canes on planting and tie in as growth develops.

– Pinch out growing tips once plants reach a height of about 40cm (16in) to encourage branching.

– For giant blooms restrict the number of flowering stems to three to five per plant; for smaller blooms allow seven to 10 flowering stems per plant.

– To produce a long-flowering display and strong stems, remove the two pairs of flower buds developing in the leaf axils below the terminal bud.

– Deadhead as flowers fade.

– Bedding dahlias need no staking or disbudding; just pinch out the growing tip to encourage bushiness and deadhead regularly.

For more Dahlia images you can refer to my blog on Mainau Island here: 

https://grndoordesign.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/mainau-island-germany/

https://grndoordesign.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/mainau-island-germany-part-2/

Dahlias i picked up at the market last week

Dahlias i picked up at the market last week

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