A cactus with a dinner-plate sized flower.
Dahlias are the showiest of flowers with a wide range of flower types. If you want neighbours to stop in amazement to gaze at your garden give dahlias a chance. The colours available are brilliant and clean with a showy appearance. If kept deadheaded they will flower strongly until the first frost.
How to Grow Easy Dahlias
• The biggest and widest range of dahlias are grown from tubers (the thick finger like roots often sold in plastic bags at garden centres)
• Select your varieties via the pack picture and read the label to see what sort of flower to expect. There are good value mixed packs available
• Plant in the garden from early April about 6 inches deep or per the instructions on the pack. Give the plant space to grow, big varieties need 24 inch spacing.
• Growth comes from where the stem meets the tuber so take care not to damage that part. A tuber finger on its own will not grow.
• Dahlias are hungry feeders so put some compost at the bottom of the hole and sprinkle a slow release fertilizer.
• Water plants when they are in growth if you want large blooms.
Even Easier Dahlias from Seed
• Often treated as half hardy annuals you can easily grow single dahlias from seed. For example Dahlia coccinea Species Mixed.
• Thompson Morgan offer a range of seeds including packets for red leaved plants , Dahlia variabilis Bishop’s Children or Redskin.
• After the frost cut down the leaves and leave your favourite plants in the ground and they may come again next year from the little tubers. If you try store the tubers they often dry out.
• Dahlias can grow from 15 inches to six feet so choose your variety for the location. Dahlia Heirloom Border Species Dahlia variabilis Giant Hybrids Mixed Dahlia variabilis Showpiece Mixed Hybrids.
• Selections by flower shape include Dahlia variabilis Cactus Hybrids Mixed, Collarette Dandy and Pompone Mixed.
• Do not damage roots when planting out after the last frost and your Dahlias will storm away.
• Large Dahlias need some support from wind. Cane and twine is the best but a wide mesh frame will also be OK.
• Collecting your own seed and crossing different varieties is not as easy but fun to try.
• Cuttings can be taken early in the season and will grow and flower.