The dahlias are in; I repeat the dahlias are in!
I’m going to let you into a little secret; I’m a little behind on my cut flower garden. I knew I was when my potted-up dahlias started to form flower buds! At this point I decided that I really needed to get my act into gear, clear the Spring bulbs and crack on with the Summer flowers. Here’s a quick summary of what last Sunday in the garden looked like for me.
Clearing the decks
There really is far too much ‘brown’ in this raised bed, and no one likes to see this. First step was to give the soil a turnover and a weed. If your soil is rock solid (like mine was) then give it a little water first as it can be back breaking otherwise. I also had some old spring bulbs in a couple of my beds that needed lifting. As you can see, they are rather past their best!
However, in the case of bulbs, these have been left in deliberately to help get all the energy to return to the bulb. The trick is to wait until the leaves have died back before lifting them. Once they have, dig them out fully and leave them in a dark and cool space, leaving plenty of space between the bulbs so they dry out fully. I’m going to re-plant these during the Autumn months in my garden borders to see if they flower again. They may not, but they were so beautiful, I thought it was worth a try.
The next step is to add some compost, just to top up the levels and to add in some nutrients.
You are now ready to plant up.
You will need a spade and stakes to support your dahlias as they grow. Remember, planting position is extremely important – dahlias like a sheltered spot, with as much sunshine as possible. South facing is ideal.
One of the most important things to remember is that dahlias are extremely susceptible to frost, so you shouldn’t plant them out until the risk of frost has gone. Late May is usually fine. If you have started off your dahlias in tubs, then don’t forget to harden them off before planting them out. All this means is acclimatising them to the outdoor temperatures by putting them outside during the day and bringing them back inside at night for a week or so before fully planting them out.
The how to
- Dig a planting hole that’s around 30cm across and add some compost to the base of the hole. If your soil is heavy clay, you could add some horticultural grit to the base of the planting hole for drainage. At this stage I add a cane into the hole. This will help prevent the dahlia from flopping as you can use garden string to tie new shoots in
- Pop the dahlia in the hole so the top of the dahlia is at the same height as the level of the border soil.
- If you have a dahlia with minimal growth, then I would add some copper rings to the base to protect new shoots from slugs and snails.
- Dahlias like plenty of room to grow so leave around 60cm distance between them.
- I’m not growing dahlias in pots this year as I’ve decided to put them all in my raised beds. However, if you are using pots then make sure you choose a large container that’s at least 30cm wide and deep, fill with multipurpose compost and plant at the same depth as they were in their original pot.
Looking after your dahlias as they grow
- Once the plant has reached about 20cm tall, encourage more flowering side shoots by pinching out the main growing tip. Refer to my previous blog on how to do this – click here to read.
- Tie in new growth every week or so.
- Once a fortnight, feed your dahlias, I use tomato feed. This keeps the flowers coming. Water well once a week.
- Deadhead your dahlias to prolong flowering.
Let the daily dahlia watch commence!
With love and stay safe, Flowers and Lifestyle by Margot –
Find out more about me – www.flowersandlifestylebymargot.co.uk