Growing Of Dahlia :
These colorful spiky flowers generally bloom from midsummer to first frost, when many other plants are past their best. They range in color and even size, from the giant 10-inch “dinnerplate” blooms to the 2-inch lollipop-style pompons. Most varieties grow 4 to 5 feet tall.
Though not well suited to extremely hot and humid climates, such as much of Texas and Florida, dahlias brighten up any sunny garden with a growing season that’s at least 120 days long. Dahlias thrive in the cool, moist climates of the Pacific Coast, where blooms may be an inch larger and deeper.
These are some steps followed while planting:
Soil Preparation & Planting and Fertilizer:
Dahlias respond dramatically to feeding. After all, they are making these fat potato-like roots, and the more food they get, the more root mass they’ll make. This not only increases your growth of leaves and flowers, it also increases your tuber clump for an even bigger show the following summer.
So be sure to dig your holes deep and work the soil all around. Enrich the soil with compost or well-rotted manure, and then work in a good 5-10-15 or 5-10-10 fertilizer according to the instructions. With a well-prepared soil bed, your Dahlias will create beautiful growth very quickly.
Dahlias are surprisingly free of most pests. Most years I’ve grown them, I’ve needed no spray or other insecticide. But they can be a magnet for slugs. Be ready with slug bait, and watch for them. They can do lots of damage in no time.
One year, Japanese beetles from nearby roses discovered my dahlias, and that had to be handled. They can obliterate not only the leaves, but the dahlia flowers, too. So be watchful, and keep the plants pest free.
Cutting Flowers :
You simply won’t be able to resist. When you remove flowers for your arrangements, choose whole stems and try to maintain the basic shape of your plant. It will quickly try to replace the branch you remove, and the buds will keep coming — right up until frost.
Most areas have enough rain to fill dahlia water needs until the sprouts appear above the ground. After dahlias are established, a deep watering 2-3 times a week for at least 30-60 minutes with a sprinkler, more required during warmer dryer weather. Hotter climates will need to water more often as conditions require. Proper watering promotes proper blooming. Hand watering is not enough. They love lots of water during the growing season.
Weed Problem :
Hand weeding is the only type of weed control you should ever use, there are no exceptions. Do not use any type of Herbicides, your dahlias will not survive.
You’ll read about this in most gardening books, and it applies to two things about dahlias. Some experts suggest removing the first buds which helps the plant into better form. But who can do that and delay your first bloom? It isn’t really necessary.
The second definition refers only to the dinnerplates, and then only if you are growing for competition in flower shows. It amounts to this: Like many flowers, dahlias set buds with one large one at the tip of a growing stem, and then smaller buds to the left and right of the tip, usually called lateral buds. Disbudding involves removing all but the terminal bud while the buds are small, obviously throwing all the growth into the one remaining bud. It does make that flower bigger that big, but most gardeners aren’t growing their dahlias for flower shows, so most people don’t do it.
Topping or Pinching :
To promote shorter, bushier plants with better stems for cutting, pinch or cut the center shoot just above the third set of leaves, or plant height of about 18-20” tall.
Winter Storage :
Use a storage medium such as slightly dampened Peat Moss, Sand, or Pet bedding material (sawdust/shavings). Tubers should be stored in crates or cardboard boxes. We recommend lining the containers with 10-12 sheets of newspaper. Start with your packing medium in the bottom and layer tubers and medium until the container is full. Never store in sealed plastic bags or plastic containers. Store in a cool, dry area (temp. of 40-50 degrees). Too warm they will wrinkle/shrivel and too cold they will freeze/rot. Please check your tubers once a month throughout the winter months.
Caring of Plant :
- There’s no need to water the soil until the dahlia plants appear; in fact, overwatering can cause tubers to rot. After dahlias are established, provide a deep watering 2 to 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes with a sprinkler (and more in dry, hot climates).
- Dahlias benefit from a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer (similar to what you would use for vegetables) such as a 5-10-10 or 10-20-20. Fertilize after sprouting and then every 3 to 4 weeks from mid-summer until early Autumn. Do NOT overfertilize, especially with nitrogen, or you risk small/no bloms, weak tubers, or rot.
- Like many large-flower hybrid plants, the big dahlias may need extra attention before or after rain, when open blooms tend to fill up with water or take a beating from the wind.
- Bedding dahlias need no staking or disbudding; simply pinch out the growing point to encourage bushiness, and deadhead as the flowers fade. Pinch the center shoot just above the third set of leaves.
- For the taller dahlias, insert stakes at planting time. Moderately pinch, disbranch, and disbud, and deadhead to produce a showy display for 3 months or more.
- Dahlia foliage blackens with the first frost.
- Dahlias are hearty to zone 8 and can be cut back and left in the ground to overwinter; cover with a deep, dry mulch. Elsewhere, the tuberous roots should be lifted and stored during the winter. (Some readers find, however, that dahlias will survive in zone 7 if the winter isn’t too severe.)
Taking Up the Tubers
In cold regions, if you wish to save your plants, you have to dig up the tubers in early fall and store them over the winter.
Dahlias may be hardy to USDA Zone 8. There they can be left in the ground to overwinter. In areas that get frost, including most parts of Zone 5, a killing frost—or a touch of frost—can help the bulb to shut down/go dormant.
- Foliage should be cut back to 2 to 4 inches above ground and lifting and separating should be completed.
- Gently shake the soil off the tubers.
- Cut rotten tubers off the clump and leave upside down to dry naturally.
- Pack in a loose, fluffy material (vermiculite, dry sand, Styrofoam peanuts).
- Store in a well-ventilated, frost-free place—40 to 45 degrees F is ideal, 35 to 50 degrees F is acceptable.
- Take out the tubers in the spring, separate them from the parent clump, and begin again.
- If this all seems like too much bother or you do not have the right storage place, skip digging and storing, and just start over by buying new tubers in the spring.