A Quick Guide to Growing Dahlias
Dahlias have always been one of my favorite flowers to grow. Each season I find myself giddy like a kid on christmas morning in anticipation for the first dahlia bloom. It is hard not to be taken by their vibrant colors, rich textures, and intricate petal formations. Once you start growing them I promise they will become a summer staple in your garden.
We have just finished dividing last years crop, and will have some tubers available this weekend as part of our Mother's Day sales at Hill's Compounding Pharmacy/Tracey Rae Flower Shop. If planted by the end of May, you could expect your own dahlias by Mid July to early August!
Dahlias come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from the fluffy dinner plate sized Cafe au Lait, to the cute little 2 to 3 inch ball type dahlias. With dahlias, the smaller they are the longer they can last after being cut. Small ball types make for great additions in a bouquet that you want to last several days, while there's nothing that can compare to an elegant dinner plate dahlia in a bridal arrangement or to make a statement on the dinner table.
DAHLIA PLANTING & CARE
Dahlias require full sun (at least 8 hours daily) to thrive and bloom abundantly. Don’t be in a hurry to plant; dahlias are cold sensitive and struggle in cold soil. Ground temperature should reach 60°F and all risk of spring frost passed. Dahlias start blooming about 8 weeks after planting, starting in mid-July.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
Garden soil/ Compost
Organza bags (optional)
Select a sunny garden spot with freely draining soil. Amend your chosen planting area with 2 to 4 inches of compost or garden soil, and an organic fertilizer of your choice. Mix all ingredients into the soil and distribute evenly.
To plant, dig a hole that is slightly larger than the tuber 2 to 4 inches deep and place the tuber on its side, horizontally, with the growing points, or “eyes,” facing up. Once in place, cover the hole with soil. If you are planting multiple tubers in one area, space each plant 9 to 12 inches apart.
Dahlias require consistent water throughout the growing season! Wait to water your Dahlias until you see the first green shoots peeking through the ground; overwatering before shoots are visible can lead to tuber rot. After dahlias are established, provide a deep watering 2 to 3 times a week with a sprinkler or watering can.
Once plants reach about 1 foot tall, give them a hard pinch by snipping out 3 to 4 inches of the growing center (right at the node of the plant) to encourage branching. This will increase flower production and overall stem length.
Humans aren’t the only species that love Dahlias! Insects love to fly in and take a bite of these beautiful blooms. To protect against insect damage, I recommend going to the dollar store or nearest craft store and grabbing a pack of organza favor bags. Once you see the colored part of the bloom appear, gently place the bag around the bloom and loosely cinch at the bottom.
By mid-summer, you might notice your dahlia plant becoming top heavy. To avoid damage to the plant, you’ll need to stake tall plants to keep them from falling over. Place tall, sturdy posts next to tubers at planting time so you can tie stems to them as they grow. If you wait until later to place the posts, be careful not to disrupt the growing tubers in the ground!
Since dahlias don't open much after they’ve been harvested, it’s important to pick them almost fully open, but not overly mature. Before cutting, check the back of each flower head, looking for firm and lush petals; flimsy or slightly dehydrated petals are a sign of age. I like to give the stem a gentle wiggle to see if the flower head is attached securely to the stem.
As you start to plan for all the wonderful things you are going to grow in the garden this season, I hope that you might consider giving dahlias a try or if you already grow them trying a new variety.
In addition to fresh cut flower bouquets and dahlia tubers we will also have a great selection of house plants, tomatoes and herbs, along with some gardening supplies available at the Pharmacy/Flower Shop this Saturday. I hope you come by and see us! We will be open on Saturday from 9 a.m to 1 p.m.
Hill's Compounding Pharmacy/Tracey Rae Flower Shop is located at 931 OH-28 Milford, OH 45150.