Dahlias are beautiful, colorful flowers that are a wonderful addition to any flower garden. They are ideal as cut flowers as well. There are many different types and varieties of dahlias, some growing no more than one foot tall, and others growing as tall as six feet. Flowers can vary in size and shape, and the range of colors extends from pink, purple, red, yellow, orange and white.
Dahlias are best suited to full sun, but they will tolerate partial shade as long as they are protected from extreme wind.
It is important that the tubers be planted in good draining soil. If the soil has a clay-like consistency, sand can be added to improve drainage and peat moss and compost can be added to loosen it. Before planting the tubers, a potato fertilizer (a low nitrogen fertilizer with a 5-10-10 breakdown,) should be spread liberally over the planting area and then tilled into it.
WHEN TO PLANT
Dahlias are not cold hardy to zones below 5 or 6. Therefore, they should not be planted until after the last frost. The zone you live in will dictate when you can plant, but the general range is somewhere from May 1st to June 15th.
HOW TO PLANT
The factor that determines how far apart to plant each tuber is the bloom size. Pompom, miniature and small blooms should be planted 2 inches apart. Medium and giant size blooms should be planted 3 inches apart. Before planting tubers, it is necessary to dig a hole that is 4 to 6 inches deep. Lay tubers so that they are flat, but so that the growing end faces up towards the sky.
Tall dahlias will require staking so that should be done at the time of planting. Taller varieties should be planted at a depth of about 6 inches. The stake should be sunken into the ground so that it is 6 inches away from the tuber. The growing end should be planted so that it faces the stake. Then the hole should be covered with dirt.
CARE AFTER PLANTING
Because dahlias have a lot of surface roots, it is only necessary to weed around the roots lightly. After July, when weeding around the taller plants, it is important to stay a good inch away from the stake.
Dahlias don’t need much water until they start to bloom. Once blooming begins, they should be watered about every ten days. Water enough to soak the ground thoroughly. Unless they are grown in a very dry location, it shouldn’t be necessary to water them again for about ten days.
Dahlias can be shaped so that they will grow into a compact bush. They