What are Dahlias? – Dahlias continuously bloom from summer through fall, and provide a colorful flower ‘shrub’! They come in colors galore, some are low growing and some tall growing. They can be grown in the ground or in containers. Dahlias can have tiny flowers or up to 10″ flowers! They are excellent cut flowers and deer resistant! They are a flower lovers dream!
If you haven’t grown these in your garden yet, they are easy to grow and care for, so go for it! Also, here are some tips for growing awesome Dahlias this summer:
- Plant when the ground temps stay at 60° or above.
- Pick an area that receives 8 hours of direct sun (if in zones 8-11: only morning sun with some afternoon shade). Less sun = Less Flowers!
- The best soil is a loose and drainable soil. If you have heavy soil, just add a bit of sand or peat moss to allow for more drainage.
- Dig a hole 2x as large as the tuber, add compost to lighten soil, place the ‘fingers’ partly spread out and facing downwards in the hole, cover with about 1″ of soil.
- Do NOT cover with saw dust or mulch, because this does not allow soil to warm up and sprout properly.
- Do NOT water until they have sprouted. After plant is established, give it a deep watering for 30 minutes a week, if no rain is in the forecast.
- If you are planting a Dinnerplate Dahlia, you should put stake in ground now; so no damage will be done to the Dahlia tuber.
- Dahlias are extremely sensitive to any herbicide in soil or near them. Avoid Nitrogen fertilizers or compost – you will end up with weak stems, small to no flowers! If you like to help them out with a fertilizer, use high Potassium & Phosphorus, like 5-10-10 to 0-20-20.
- If you know you have issues with snails/slugs, sprinkle Sluggo at planting and again 2-3 weeks later.
- To promote bushier plants: pinch or cut the center shoot just above the third set of leaves.
Dahlias can be hardy in zones 7-11, but they grow just fine in other zones that have warm summers! I have planted some in my mostly clay soil and let them grow with no extra watering and no fertilizer, both in containers and in the ground, in USDA Zone 5. I have been very pleased with all of them! Continually shooting up more flowers until a hard frost in fall. I also cut many for great displays on my kitchen table as well!
You don’t live in in zones 8-10, you should store your tubers in fall and replant in spring. You can easily store them over the winter. Gently dig up all around tuber and wash off most of the soil. Then, let the tubers air dry for about 2 days. Use a cardboard box or a crate with 10-12 sheets of newspaper on the bottom to set them in. Also, make sure they are spread out and not touching each other. Store box in a cool (about 40-50°) and dry area.
That’s a lot of information, but do not be intimidated. I am a very ‘easy going’ gardener. I do not put a lot of effort into growing anything in my yard. I have many, many varieties of flowers, but I do not do much more than hand weed and weed spray. Dahlias have become my favorite summer flower!