My last blog post I wrote about the history of the dahlia and described the various cultivars; and since it is one of my favourite flowers I’m going to write about it again this week. The team at Doff are busy with the Glee show, thankfully I’m just the blogger so I can enjoy my dahlias 🙂
I’m on to my third flush of dahlias and still enjoying them – I think I’d enjoy them if they flowered all year round! This week I’m going to share some advice on growing dahlias and how to keep them at their best and repeat flowering well into the autumn.
Planting New Dahlias
You can either buy dahlia plants which will usually be grown from cuttings taken from mature dahlia plants so they will flower later in the season, I personally prefer buying dahlia tubers. Before you plant your dahlias make sure to insert stakes and canes to support the dahlia plant. A good idea is to have one central stake surrounded by a few thinner canes, you can then put string around the canes to help support off shoots from the main stem.
Plant the tubers so that their “eyes” are about 5 cm below the surface. Planting distances are two feet apart for pompon varieties, two and a half feet for ball and all other dahlias except for the giant varieties which should be three feet apart.
Keep the soil watered and shoots should begin to emerge after about five weeks – if they don’t then dig up your tubers to check for rot or slug damage.
Once the shoots have appeared in order to encourage a bushy plant, pinch out the growing point when six pairs of leaves have appeared on the stem.
Caring for your dahlias
Regular watering is important – don’t let your dahlias dry out. Particular care should be taken that water gets to the dahlias roots since they produce lots of bushy leaves close to the ground which shelter the roots from rain. I recommend adding a thick mulch during July which will help keep moisture in the soil around the roots. Dahlias should be fed about once a month with a propriety flower feed – liquid seaweed is particularly good.
Disbudding should be done to all smaller flower buds allowing the largest central bud to develop into a single flower on each stem. Pompon dahlias do not need to be disbuded. It is important to disbud otherwise your dahlias will quickly deteriorate into a mass of small poor quality flowers.