Our Spot light this month is on the Dazzling and Majestic Dahlia that has beguiled so many Gardeners and Champion Growers in Europe over the last 200 years. Originating in Mexico the first Dahlias imported to Madrid were simple flowered with single or multi-petaled, open centred flowers. Soon they were being hybridised when their popularity and status bloomed in the 1800’s.
Today we see a Kaleidoscope of colours and forms in the Dahlia varieties available, from compact border types such as Red Pigmy, to the exotic Cactus flowers of Colour Spectacle and the stunning Gigantic bright Yellow Flowers of the Dinner Plate Dahlia named Kelvin Floodlight. To Name but a few.
With such a range of shape and size this diverse species offers plants suited to Gardens both large and small, and both novice and expert gardeners alike. Dahlias will happily grow in a herbaceous border, a bed dedicate to itself or even a roomy container where a little care and attention will repay you with an abundance of flowers and admiration from your neighbours all summer long.
So if you fancy giving these rewarding plants a try, now is the time to visit the Garden Centre and choose from the comprehensive range selected from some of the best commercial varieties available.
Follow our simple tips to enjoy a stunning floral display this summer:
Ground Preparation – Dahlias will thrive in most soils but do best in rich, well drained beds. This can be achieved by digging the soil over well and raising the bed height by adding plenty of compost such as Levingtons Original Choice. A couple of handfuls of bone meal or Grow-more added for each square yard is adequate to get your tubers off to a good start.
Planting out – This should be done after all risk of frost has gone, then Dahlias should be spaced according to size requirements, holes dug to planting depth.( shown on their packs), and plant with the previous years stem facing upwards. If conditions are dry as the shoots start to emerge a little watering is essential however it is best to be sparing and encourage the roots to source water from lower ground.
Caring throughout the season – Once plants start to increase in height, early staking especially for taller varieties will provide support. Watch out for early pest infestations such as greenfly and treat with a systemic insecticide, feeding at this time is not essential however Dahlias are thirsty plants and benefit from plenty of water & mulching in warmer weather. Once flowers begin to bloom, remove dead heads regularly to promote more flowers and deter mildews. Once the season is over and plants have begun to die back, foliage can be removed. Often Dahlias can survive overwinter in the ground, however to guarantee a great show the following year Tubers can be lifted and stored in dry compost in a frost free place.