How to plant, grow and care for Dahlias
Dahlias are mid - to late season flowers that come in a vast array of colors and forms. These hugely varietal flowers are a collector’s dream, with little starburst blooms to plate sized flowers in every hue imaginable. Dahlias are relatively sturdy plants if grown in the right lighting, heat, and soil. The tubers are planted in the ground in late spring. In colder zones, you do need to dig up and store the tubers in the fall if you wish to grow them as perennials (or, treat as annuals).
Dahlia is a genus of tuberous plants that are members of the Asteraceae family. Related species include the daisy, chrysanthemum, sunflower and zinnia. They grow from small tubers planted in the spring.
Care of dahlia flowers may vary depending upon your timezone, but here are a few growing tips to help you get maximum blooms and healthy, bushy plants. You can grow the dahlia from the tubers as well as from the seeds.
How to grow dahlias from the seeds
Sown in late winter or early spring in a propagator or greenhouse, dahlia seeds will produce young plants ready to plant outdoors at the end of May. You can read the benefits of growing dahlias from seeds and explanations on how to do it. First of all, you will need:
Seed tray or pot
Multi-purpose, peat free compost
Label and pencil
Fill a pot or tray with moist compost and lightly firm the surface. Gently push seeds into the compost. Then label your seeds. Cover pots with an inflated clear polythene bag. If sown in seed trays, cover with a propagator lid.
Seedlings will germinate in a couple of weeks. Once the leaves have grown, seedlings are ready to be transplanted into the individual pots. Gently tease plants out of the soil.
Gently transplant seedlings in small pots of peat-free, multi-purpose compost, firm and water well. In the middle of May, you need to leave pots outdoors during the day and bring them back home at night. Plant the dahlias into the ground once all risk of frost has passed.
Choosing and preparing a planting site
Select a planting site with full sunlight. Dahlias grow more blooms with 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. Choose a location with a bit of protection from the wind.
Dahlias thrive in rich, well drained soil. The PH level of the soil should be 6.5 - 7.0.
If your soil is clay, add a little bit of sand or aged manure to lighten and loosen the soil texture for better drainage.
Large dahlias are best grown in a dedicated plot in rows on their own, free from competition from other plants. Dahlias of medium to low height mix well with other summer flowers.