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Growing Dahlias

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

Dahlias are one of my absolute favourite cut flowers to grow - there are so many different varieties and colours to choose from and they are very generous when it comes to growing blooms. Right now is the perfect time to start off your Dahlias, providing you have somewhere sheltered from frost, such as a greenhouse to store them in, until risk of frost has passed.

How to choose?!

With so many varieties out there, you may be struggling to choose which Dahlia's to grow! It all depends on what you want your Dahlia's for. If you want to grow for cut flowers, open varieties might not give you the best vase life. This is because they are easy to pollinate and once pollinated, the flowers will go over very quickly. Ofcourse, if you are wanting to attract pollinators to your garden, then the open varieties are perfect!

Open varieties such as this Verrone's Obsidian, might not give you the best vase life.

So which Dahlia's are the best for cutting? The first thing you will want is nice long stems, so avoid Dahlia's which have been bred for borders. You will also want a Dahlia which will give you a good vase life and generally the tightly formed, ball or pompom varieties are the best for this. Of course, if you are growing for cutting though, it is a good idea to grow flowers of different shapes and textures to add interest to your arrangements, so when you are choosing your Dahlia's, keep in mind which ones are going to look good together in a vase or bouquet.

Pompom varieties such as this Wizard of Oz, make great cut flowers.

How to grow

So you have chosen your tubers and you are ready to plant! The first thing to know is that Dahlias are tender and will not tolerate frost, so if you want to start them off now, you will need a greenhouse or cold frame to store them in until risk of frost has passed - normally around the end of May, though you will need to check your local last frost date first.

To start your Dahlias off in pots, you first need to find pots which are just big enough to fit your tubers in - the bigger the pot, the more compost it will need and the more space it will take up in your greenhouse!

Before potting up your tuber, trim off any broken or scraggly bits. If your tuber is slightly too big for your pot, using a clean tool, trim down some of the tubers so that it fits comfortably. The growing shoots will come from around the neck of the tuber - where the old stem is, so trimming the tubers themselves will not harm their growing.

Put a little bit of peat free compost into the bottom of your pot before placing your tuber on top.

Cover your tuber gently with more compost and give it a good water.

Put your potted tuber in a frost free place, such as a greenhouse. It can be planted out after your last frost date has passed.

You shouldn't need to water your tuber again until you start to see signs of growth, but keep an eye on it and don't let them dry out completely!

Once your Dahlia's are growing, water them regularly and make sure you open any greenhouse doors/windows on warm days to stop them from overheating!

Happy growing!

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