Having recently been asked for advice on how I care for my dahlia plants at this time of year I have the following growing tips for beginners.
In my experience it is important to feed dahlias regularly in order to get a nice succession of blooms. Experts sometimes differ on what type of fertilizers they use to grow their prize-winning blooms (prize winning tips often remain secret!). I find that you can either use a general complete flower fertilizer that you can find in any garden center or better still, I like to use sulphate of potash which is basically the liquid that I use to feed my tomato plants.
I prefer to use liquid fertilizers since they are easier to dilute according to the manufacturers instructions. I also like to make sure that during periods of draught my dahlias are watered regularly and I obviously feed the base of the plant in the ground.
Right now I have dahlias grown in pots, and also some plants over-wintered as they were planted directly in the ground last year.
This year a couple of my plants didn’t make it through the exceptionally cold winter so it’s best not to leave them outside if you don’t want to take any risk.I have a spider dahlia which I planted early in the year in a pot and sheltered in the greenhouse and it is now in full bloom (I bought the tuber last year and it’s growing again really well this year).
The specimens that were planted directly in the ground and survived winter are only just starting to produce buds but I know that they will be just as beautiful as the forced one.
Another tip for growing dahlias is that it is best to dead head the faded flowers regularly. This encourages new growth and it also makes the plant look tidier.
Whilst I deadhead I also take the opportunity to check for earwigs since they lurk in the flower petals and can do quite a lot of damage to your plant. I don’t use any pesticides on my plants and prefer to trap the earwigs in upturned clay pots as I explained on my previous article about growing dahlias.
If you have found that a particular type of dahlia is graceful to you, then you will be able to propagate the plant at a later stage.
So it’s worth keeping a note of which plant is of interest to you right now so that you may be able to grow some more for free for years to come.