Planting and Taking Care of Dahlias!

Planting and Taking Care of Dahlias!

dahlia

No flower will give a gardener a more spectacular reward than the Dahlia!

This flower and all of its many varied forms, is an absolutely show-stopping variety that brings a stunning rainbow of color to any garden! 

Learn more about these unique blooms and their care today!

All About Darling Dahlias

Native to Mexico, Dahlias are tuberous, herbaceous perennial plants that range from miniatures that are a few inches tall, to huge flowers that are the size of dinner plates!

red dahlia

Dahlia has leafy stems that range in height from 12 inches to more than 8 feet! Featuring a single flower per stem, but Dahlia has multiple stems on each plant and keeps pumping out the blooms until frost!

There are over 40 species of Dahlias, and these plants come in a multitude of heights, sizes, colors, and number of rows of petals. These include spiky Cactus flower forms, Waterlily, Single and Decorative, round Pompoms, Orchid-forms and Ball Dahlia, Peony and Anemone-Flowered, Collarette, and the grand Dinnerplate flower forms of Dahlia! We’re sure you’ll find the right one for you!

Adding Dahlias to a garden bed or large planter creates a brilliant focal point in your garden and vivid landing pads for pollinators and Hummingbirds!

Dahlia blooms almost continually all growing season, and the more you cut for bouquets or deadhead as they fade, the more they will produce! Dahlias make long-lasting cut flowers and their multi-layered petals can add body and beauty to any arrangement. Dahlias are often used to express personal sentiments.

No Pollinator garden, Perennial bed, cut flower border, or proper English Cottage garden should be without these magnificent extended-bloom flowers!

Planting Dahlia Tubers

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Even though they are often referred to as “bulbs” the roots of this plant are tubers (like potatoes) and sprout from their “eyes” and have shallow roots.

The key to successfully growing Dahlias is good soil preparation, and once the plants are established, it is suggested to add mulch to conserve moisture and protect the roots.

  • Plant Dahlia about the time you plant Tomatoes in the late spring after the threat of frost
  • Or - Start indoors 4-6 weeks before your area's last frost date
  • Plant Dahlia tubers between 10-12 inches deep in loosened, enriched soil
  • Space tubers apart based on their mature spread so they have plenty of room to grow
  • Cover with soil and water in well - just enough to remove air pockets and prime the soil
  • Water again once you see new growth (the tubers need little until they are growing)
  • Transplant indoor starts once the threat of frost has passed and water in well

Additional Dahlia Tips:

  • Tubers planted directly in the ground will start to sprout in about 3 weeks depending on your climate and weather. Once they do get growing - they take off!
  • Deadhead blooms as they fade to encourage new blooms to quickly follow.
  • Water your plants only at the root level to avoid getting excess water on the foliage.
  • Using a layer of mulch around the plant (not pushed up against the stem) will prevent water from splashing onto the leaves - carrying with it potential fungal and disease issues. This also helps keep the vegetative leaves looking cleaner!
  • In addition to working compost into your Dahlia bed, apply a good organic high-in-potassium (K) fertilizer before planting. Choose a flowering plant or bulb fertilizer that’s low in nitrogen to encourage blooms and not leafy growth.

Dahlia Care Needs

It is best to plant Dahlias in an area that gets at least eight hours of direct sunlight a day. If you live in a hot summer climate, choose a location that provides morning sun and afternoon shade. 

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The morning sun is best due to its drying power to clear the leaves of dew. Dahlia foliage also appreciates very good air circulation!

Choose a location that is well-drained and enriched with plenty of organic matter and water regularly. Preferring consistently moist but not soggy conditions. A 3-4 inch deep layer of arborist mulch and/or compost helps hold in moisture, reducing watering frequency, and insulating the roots.

For larger Dahlia or gardeners that grow them in windy/storm-prone areas, a bamboo stake, trellis, or other structure will help keep your flowering stems standing tall.

How to Dig and Store Dahlias In The Fall

Dahlias can be grown as perennial bulbs in the ground year-round in USDA planting zones 8 and up, but Dahlias grown in colder than Zones 2 to 7, need to be lifted in the autumn after the foliage begins to die back after a light chill. Do not let them be exposed to a hard frost where the ground freezes, as this will damage the tubers.

field dahlia

In very cold climates, to save your tubers for the next year, dig up the plants, remove the wilted leaves, and snip back the stems.

  1. Using a spade or garden shovel, dig a ways away from the stem to not damage any roots, dig straight down all around the plant and locate the tubers.
  2. Gently lift them from the ground and shake loose/hose off the soil.
  3. Let the dug tubers dry out some (not completely) and remove any further excess soil. Don’t leave them laying in direct sunlight.
  4. Place in paper bags or boxes in a cool, dry, and dark location with good air circulation.
  5. Throughout the winter, mist them with a little water if the tubers are drying up.

If you live in a warmer climate, simply trim back the stems to keep your plants looking their best and fresh growth will appear in the spring.

Start Your Dahlia Obsession Here!

Nature Hills has a wide selection of Dahlia plants, and dormant Dahlia bulbs for you to choose from!

From the star-shaped Verrone's Obsidian Dahlia and Destiny's Teacher Dahlia to the pompom-like Sassafras Dahlia, the coneflower-like Pulp Fiction Dahlia, and the many bi-color forms like Rebecca's World - Dahlias never cease to amaze you with their vivid, saturated colors, multitude of petal-forms, and range of heights from small to large!

Once you've grown one of these beauties, you will want to add more! Growing Dahlias can easily become an obsession once you see the staggering array of choices available to you!

Happy Planting!

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