The darling dahlia (as I like to call them) is one of my favourite flowers. They can bloom well into October, when I dig the tubers up to protect them from the first frost. Not only are they rather beautiful but they come in all shapes, sizes and colours so I challenge you to find one that you don’t like. Even better, they are very low maintenance (my type of flower) and will thrive in most sunny spots and soils, so long as there is good moisture and drainage. This is my second year growing them so thought I would provide a quick recap on what I’ve learnt as well as what to do with them pre your first frost.
- In terms of planting they do need a sunny position but I’ve found they will tolerate a partial shade.
- Dahlias are extremely susceptible to frost so you need to avoid planting them while frosts are still ongoing. You can, however, plant them up in pots to transfer post-frosts. This year I planted in pots in February, left them indoors and then started to acclimatise them to outdoor temperatures in March/April. By the time I got to planting them out in late May they had already become bushy plants.
- Don’t forget to pinch out the tips of the main shoot as they grow. I use my thumb and forefinger and just pinch and remove the main shoot down to the top pair of leaves.
- Make sure you give them a weekly feed. I feed every Friday and (like I said in last week’s blog) think of it as their Friday night G&T.
- When planting your dahlias make sure you stake them so you can tie them in as they grow. I didn’t do this as effectively as I could have done and as a result lost a couple to Storm Francis. So frustrating after all of the nurturing.
- Don’t forget that slugs love dahlias and their new shoots. I protect mine using copper rings.
- If you are not picking your dahlias to bring inside then make sure you regularly deadhead them.
- If like me and you can’t get enough of them in your home then make sure you pick dahlias that are in full flower. If you pick a bud it doesn’t tend to then go onto flower. When you bring them in, recut the stem under water to help avoid any air blocks in their hollow stems.
The all-important what to do now with your dahlias.
In one of my posts this week I asked what people do with their dahlias – do they leave them in or lift? The response was mixed and a lot of people who live in the South of England tend to be braver with leaving them in due to their winters being milder. Remember that dahlias are hugely susceptible to frost so if you leave them in the ground then you need to cover them with a deep layer of mulch to protect them from frost. However, be aware that even with this you can still lose your plants.
I’m too risk adverse to leave mine in, plus I’m going to rejig my cut flower beds for next year so I’ve decided to lift mine. Now, obviously you need to watch the weather very carefully as you need to lift them before your first frost. Ideally leave them in as long as possible as you want all of the energy to return to the bulb before digging them up. Don’t worry if the leaves turn yellow, this is in fact good. Once you are ready to dig them up, cut off the foliage and carefully dig out the tubers. The key is keeping the bulbs as dry as possible so brush off any excess dirt and let the tubers dry naturally. When they are ready to go into storage you want to make sure that they are kept as dry as possible, have good air circulation and are kept in a cool, dark place. You can store them in a number of containers, crates, cardboard boxes or paper bags. I tend to use cardboard boxes. You then just leave them there until you are ready to re-use.
With love and stay safe, Flowers and Lifestyle by Margot –
Find out more about me – www.flowersandlifestylebymargot.co.uk