Dahlias are beautiful plants and make a lovely display in the garden or as cut flowers in the house.
Dahlias like a rich, well drained soil and are best suited to a sunny position. Shorter varieties can be planted in pots and kept on the patio. To achieve strong plants, it is possible to start tubers off from February onwards, providing they are kept in a warm, frost free environment. Plant now in pots in a good soil. Plants can be transferred into the garden once the risk of frost has past. At this time it is also possible to plant directly into the soil for a later crop.
Dahlias like to be kept watered, but do not like wet feet! Do not let them dry out in warm weather - a covering of straw as a mulch will help keep the soil damp.
Once dahlias start to flower they will keep flowering until the frosts start again. A perfect plant for summer colour in the garden! Dead head old flowers to encourage new growth, or cut for the house.
Dahlias will benefit from feeding with a tomato food (such as tomorite) at regular intervals. Taller plants will require staking and supporting.
Frost will eventually blacken off the plant. This is the time to lift tubers. In milder climates they may survive over winter, but it is unlikely in the UK. Allow the tuber to dry off surface moisture before storing for the winter. This can be done by keeping the tubers in straw or dry compost and away from the frost. Once spring rolls around again, you are ready for another year of beautiful flowers.
Dahlias are easy to grow and look after and come in may varieties, shapes and colours. Some of our favourites are -
Verrones Obsidian - unusual black spikey petals with a gold centre. The bees love this variety.
Black Touch - large heads of crimson-black flowers.
Creme de Cassis - purple backs to the petals with pale lilac fronts. This is an outstanding cut flower.
Rebecca's World - lovely multicoloured petals.
Moulin Rouge - another beautiful multicoloured flower.
Sir Alf Ramsay - possibly the biggest dahlia - with heads that can grow up to 14" in diameter. Now there is a challenge!
See what can be done by the real experts on the National Dahlia Society website www. dahlia-nds.co.uk. We have our own Dahlia Champion instore - Dave Gillam is a past National Dahlia Society Champion as well as taking the title at many regional events over the years. Come to Abercorn and meet him and get expert advice.