Dahlias – Colorful Summer Bloomers

Now is the time to think about getting a jump start on some of those colorful summer bloomers you always wanted to add to the garden.  There are lots of sources either on the internet or from a selection of mail order catalogs.

What better plant to use in the midst of summer heat.  Native to Mexico and Central America, they are the ideal plant with a kaleidoscope of shapes, sizes, and color to add to the summer garden.  When my daughter got married two years ago I decided to grow Dahlias so that I would be able to cut them for her bridal shower in July.  The were inexpensive and I had a great selection to choose from in the different colors and sizes to complement the theme.  No matter the size from just a few inches tall to the huge ‘Dinnerplates”, the process is all the same.

Dahlias are called bulbs, but they are actually tubers and look like a bunch of wierd shaped brown long potatoes to me.  The stems, once planted grow right from these tubers or rather the eyes on the tubers and will grow into thick strong stems to support the plants and the flowers.

One of the important rules to successful Dahlias is to feed them a lot; the more food they get the stronger the root mass which helps the tuber clump to become stronger and help the stems, leaves and flowers to thrive and grow successfully.  This also helps to add to the strength of the tuber for an even bigger show the following summer.

To plant the tubers, dig a big enough hole so that the soil can be easily worked around it and enrich the soil with compost or well-rotted manure.  The next step is to work in a good 5-10-5 fertilizer or even 5-10-10 fertilizer and be sure to follow the instructions.

When planting the tubers be sure to give them enough space to grow.  They need plenty of room.  Some of the larger varieties will grow tall and almost like bushes.  Be sure to read the specifications of the variety of Dahlias you select to grow.

Dahlias need plenty of sun and water.  Firm them into the soil and bury just over the clump with the points down.  Water and you are done.

Once the plants start to grow watch for the need to stake which is important.  They have brittle stems and a good storm might break them, especially if they are starting to flower. They can become quite heavey.  It also helps the plants to grow straight so that you can cut them for beautiful flower arrangements.  The larger the plants the more you will need to use stakes and twine to hold the plants upright.  What is great is that you can keep cutting these beautiful flowers right up until frost.

Look for pictures of my Dahlias next summer, 2015 and a Spring video of how to plant them…

Be sure to dig up your tubers before there is a hard-frost and save them for next year.  Be adamant about doing this because once they are hit they are certainly dead instantly, no saving them once they are blackened.  Just pull up or dig up the plants carefully and chop off the stems a few inches above the tuber.  Was all dirt away and set them in sun to dry.  You can then store them in some shredded paper in a nice dry place and save for next spring.  Oh, be sure to LABEL them…..  I almost forgot to do this last year when digging them up.


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