A Focus on Dahlias
Mid-summer is the time to focus on dahlias. No other plant rivals the Dahlia for shear brightness and brilliance!
Once the plant of choice for only the dedicated enthusiast, the Dahlia fell from grace and endured an unfashionable period. But not anymore! The Dahlia is today’s ‘must have’ garden plant again!
Rather than being grown in serried ranks for cutting or for the show bench, the Dahlia is now mixing it with the rest and fitting in rather well.
Those with dark almost chocolate coloured leaves are especially popular and often have simple single blooms. Many of these are almost hardy and could be left in situ overwinter if a little protection is given. I find that planting extra deeply helps a good deal.
But why do I choose to focus on dahlias now?
Well, I think that we can be fairly confident that the risk of frost is past and so it is time to get planting!
Okay, I know that some of you will have already got yours out but for most this is the time to fill those spaces! Pot grown plants are available now and get away very quickly. You’ll need to have cultivated the soil thoroughly and added plenty of compost. You should also add a balanced fertiliser that has all the major nutrients that dahlias need. They are hungry plants and will pay you back well if you spoil them! I use Vitax Q4.
Watch for these pests
Slugs and snails love dahlias too but once you get them growing they’ll usually outgrow those hungry beasts! Nevertheless it is imperative that you protect your freshly planted dahlias from attack. Few other pests trouble dahlias but it’s always worth keeping an eye on the soft growing tips where greenfly sometimes turn up.
For taller growing varieties it pays to get a support structure in place before planting. Many modern varieties do not need support.
After thoroughly watering your plants in it may be necessary to provide water during dry periods. But since this plant originates from Mexico it is of no surprise that it can take all the sun and surprisingly dry conditions once well established.
Earwigs have a liking for the flower petals in late summer. These can be easily trapped in upturned flower pots stuffed with dried grass and put on top of posts among the plants. The earwigs retreat to this cosy place at dawn and you can remove and dispose them without having to resort to chemicals.
Single flower varieties of Dahlia are very good bee plants and might also attract butterflies into your garden.
Will you focus on dahlias in your garden this summer?
If you like exotic looking blooms you might like to read my blog on some in a garden in Costa Rica here.