Author: Laraine A. Milazzo
If you are looking for explosions of color, Dahlias can provide a dazzling pallette in your late summer and early autumn garden.
What about size?
Are you trying to fill some containers?
Or would you prefer to landscape an entire bed?
They come in all sizes from an inch or so, all the way up to platter size specimens.
Whether planted as seeds or tubers, you will need a very sunny location with well drained soil. Larger varieties will need to be staked.
It is often recommended that the smaller buds be pinched off to provide a larger bloom. If you are growing them for cutting, be sure to snip them in the early morning.
Many treat the seed variety as annuals, but the tubers can be lifted in the fall to weather in a cool spot (such as a garage or cellar) over the winter.
Essentially they must be dug up carefully and the soil gently shaken from the plant.
After drying they can be placed in a box with a few inches of peat or vermiculite, then covered a little while allowing the stems to remain exposed.
Be sure to check on them a few times over the winter to assure that the stems aren't drying out.
If so, add a little moisture. The tubers can be replanted in fertilized soil after all danger of frost has passed.
I had the opportunity to view some of these charming and delightful flowers at the Annual American Dahlia Society Show a few years ago at the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, Long Island.
They were all winners in my book.