Bringing fresh cut dahlias from the garden into the kitchen is a summer delight. Not only do you get to enjoy the vibrant beauty of the flowers – gathering and arranging them – but it’s satisfying to know that you grew them yourself. Dahlias are one of the easiest flowers to grow and incredibly rewarding. The more you cut them, the more they’ll bloom and bloom. With so many colours and forms to choose from, I like to think of them as a rainbow in a vase. If you’ve never grown a dahlia, what are you waiting for? Here are some helpful tips to get you growing.
Although it’s early spring outside and too chilly to plant dahlias directly into the garden, you can start them off in containers indoors. Choose a container with good drainage holes, that’s wide and deep enough to accommodate your tubers. Dahlias aren’t too picky. They enjoy average soils and full sun locations. If you’re starting them in containers you can use a well-draining potting soil mix.
Plant tubers 10 cm (4”) deep in a shallow hole. Cover the tuber with soil, and water in well, but don’t overwater. Keep the soil moist, but not too wet. Locate your container in a sunny window that receives a lot of light. Do not expose dahlia tubers to freezing temperatures; frost can kill your dahlia and ruin all your efforts.
Waiting for the fresh green shoots to poke through the soil is the hardest part. When the plant grows 10 cm (4”) tall pinch out the growing tip without damaging any leaves. This allows the plant to put out side branches.
After all danger of frost has passed, the young plants can be transferred to their final locations outdoors. Plant them at the same level as they were in the container. Dahlias often need additional support as they grow; set a stake at the back of the tuber clump. When the main stem needs support, use soft fabric, like an old pair of nylons for stake ties.
Water dahlias regularly, 1-2 times each week, and especially on hot summer days. Dahlias need only a light application of fertilizer (5-10-10). Never spray fertilizer directly on the foliage.
Dahlias are simply gorgeous in bouquets. And if by chance, you have too many flowers, a bouquet makes a wonderful gift for a friend or neighbor!