Dahlias are a vibrant plant that produces spectacular blooms in the summer and fall. In 2019, The National Garden Bureau voted the flower as the bulb of the year. With so much fanfare, the dahlia has moved into a league of their own! The tuberous plant is related to the sunflower, zinnia, and daisy. The colors vary, but they are equally as gorgeous as the next.
The sizes of the flower are not the same with each plant either. They can be as small as two inches in diameter, or you could see one with a width of one foot! This flower truly is a feast for the eyes and nose. The distinct look and color palette of the dahlia is one of the reasons why it has become a favorite with fans of the gardening world. Let’s take a closer look at the flower that can brighten up any garden it grows in.
You can learn the following:
- Planting times for the dahlia
- Preparing the garden before sowing
- How to plant your dahlias
- How to care for the flower as it grows
- Winter care for the tubers
Dahlias are flowers that don’t grow so well in extreme temperatures. If you want to plant them in your garden, you should wait until the soil thaws after winter. A soil temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit is what you should aim for. Most experienced gardeners wait until the threat of spring frost has passed.
If you can’t wait for the spring thaw to happen, you can also start the plant indoors, and plant the tubers in flower pots a month before the outdoor soil is ready. If you decide to do this, small to medium-sized dahlias work best in these conditions. You can then transplant the growing flower to your outdoor garden.
Preparing the Garden
When choosing a location to plant your flowers, select a spot that has plenty of sun. Dahlias need at least six hours of sunlight to mature as they should. The morning sun is the best light for growth. If you aren’t sure where the ideal location is in your yard, pay attention to where the sun rises in the morning. You can make a mental note or take a photo of the best morning sunspots. The area should be protected from the wind as well.
When you find your favorite location, check the soil you are planning on planting the flower in. The earth needs to be fertile and well-drained. You can even add in moss or manure to add nutrients to the garden bed. You can grow the flowers in rows if you want to cut them when they fully mature. Otherwise, give the tubers enough space to take root and grow. Dahlias do grow nicely with other flowers, so have fun with planting!
Planting Your Dahlias
When you are choosing tubers to plant, choose ones that have pink buds and a green body. Crumpled tubers are typically rotten and should be avoided. There is no need to cut into the tubers before planting. It does more damage than good. As you begin to plant the dahlias, make sure each tuber is at least nine inches apart from other flowers. Take note that these dimensions apply to the moderately sized variety. If you have the smaller type, you can plant the flowers three inches apart, and larger flowers need to be set at least two feet away from each other.
The hole should be about seven inches deep. Sit the tubers inside with the buds facing you. All the tuber needs is a couple of inches of soil to grow. Make sure the soil stays moist and rich as the roots take hold. Keep filling in the hole with soil as it grows until you reach ground level. Don’t water the plant until the buds have sprouted. If you try to add moisture before then, you could be faced with a rotting plant. Avoid using mulch on the soil, as the flower needs sun as soon as they are planted.
Caring for Your Growing Flowers
If you planted your flowers mid-spring, you should start to see them bloom in a couple of months (mid-July). You should be watering the plant a couple of times a week once they are established. The length of the watering time should be between 20 and 30 minutes with a good sprinkler. If you live in a hotter climate, you may need to water longer to keep the soil saturated. If your garden experiences heavy rain, you may need to shake the blooms off as the petals tend to carry water when fully matured.
A taller variety of dahlia needs to be staked. Carefully do so when the tuber shows its first signs of growing. Be delicate as you tie down the tender stems. When the dahlia’s growth is complete, you can expect to have colorful and healthy blooms well into the fall.
As stated previously, dahlias don’t grow well in extreme weather. When the first frost hits, the plant wilts and blackens. During the winter months, you should cut back the remaining plant and leave it in the ground with a topping of mulch. If you live in a region with frigid weather, you may need to remove the plant altogether before the frost hits and store indoors until the spring. To do so, use a spade or shovel to cut around the tubers. Gently lift the plant and shake off the excess soil. Any rotten parts should be cut off. Then, hang the plant upside down to dry outside. You can then pack the plant with sand, Styrofoam, or any loose material. Store the plant in a well-ventilated area.
Dahlias are beautiful plants to have in your garden. The ease of care, a variety of colorful blooms, and the wonderful fragrances are perfect for the beginning gardener as well as the more experienced grower. When you make sure the flowers receive adequate sunshine and proper maintenance, you can have these plants regrow year after year.