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Dahlias 

Dahlias in the Garden

As tender bulbs, dahlias cannot be planted outdoors until threat of frost has passed. They can either be started up indoors in pots in late winter/early spring then planted outdoors, or, planted outside right into the garden or large containers, around "Planting Time".

Set tubers horizontally beneath 8 cm of prepared soil. As shoots grow, fill in with 2 to 8 cm more soil. For large growing varieties, you might like to set stakes in place at planting time in order to avoid damaging the roots when staking later in the season.

Dahlias can also be purchased as bedding plants. Increasingly, garden centres are offering these and other sought-after summer bulbs in this already-started condition.

The full range of dahlias make excellent container plants and are perfect for bed, border or cutting garden. Dahlias are also wonderful as cut flowers, with a vase life of up to a week. The added bonus being, the more you cut and pinch dahlias, the more flowers they produce.

Dahlia Care

Dahlias need to be watered regularly and will benefit from being fed with a low-nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season. Pinching off or cutting spent flowers is recommended. The stalks are woody, so aphids can attack them. A spray with insecticidal soap or even physically washing the aphids off.

Dahlias have been successfully bred over the centuries that, today, they are divided into many

 groups. Following are the groups with importance to home gardeners:

Cactus and Semi-Cactus

Both types have fully double flowers with long pointed ray-like petals that revolute or roll back along about half their length, giving the flowers a spiky look. Most cultivars reach a high of more than a metre. Among the most popular are: ‘Alfred Grille’ (salmon pink with a yellow centre), ‘Purple Gem’ (cyclamen purple), ‘Ludwig Hellfret’ (bronze), ‘My Love’ (creamy white), ‘Kennemerland’ (yellow), ‘Firebird’ (yellow with red tips).

Decorative

These are fully double dahlias with broad, flat-tipped petals that are sometimes wavy. The flowers are normally large and the plants easily exceed a metre in height, though there are even taller varieties. Cultivars to watch for include: ‘Duet’ (red with white tips), ‘Lucky Number’ (lilac-purple), ‘Berliner Kleene’ (old rose), ‘Rosella’ (purple), ‘Seattle’ (yellow with white tips), ‘Snowstorm’ (white) and ‘Golden Emblem’ (deep yellow).

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