Following my article about how to grow dahlias I am delighted to have received some precious advice from a member of the West Cornwall Dahlia Club.
Paul is a keen dahlia grower who has spent years perfecting the art of growing dahlias for competition purposes and I have taken the opportunity to ask him a few questions.
So what is your favourite dahlia?
“Of the 102 dahlias that I grow my main dahlia has to be Trelyn Kiwi, which is a small cactus which you can see in the picture below. This dahlia is a multi winner up and down the country, even to the other ends of the world such as New Zealand.
Its form is immaculate if not the easiest to grow. I usually grow 24 plants but this year I am growing 32 plants of it!
Do you have some advice on how to achieve the best results with your dahlias?
I follow these steps in order to be ready for the annual dahlia show which takes place in Truro next weekend on 16th August:
– Planting: I usually plant my dahlias during the last week of May, watering in with Maxicrop Seaweed based growth stimulant and Epsom Salts. Other fertilizers are also available but these are my preferred choice.
– Stopping: in order to grow perfect show dahlia flowers, in particular for my Trelyn Kiwi variety, I like to pinch out the central leading bud in June. When that leading bud is removed the lower buds grow on producing the resultant stems which should be ready for the show in August.
– Debranching: secure 7 stems and the resultant blooms will reach 6.25 to 6.50 inches across.
– Disbudding: I remove all other bud growth down to ground level
– Cutting for the show: I cut the flower 24 hours before the show, or 36 hours placing blooms in a dark shed; Trelyn can have ‘green centres’ so a day before cutting add a high nitrogen feed such as Chempak No.2 to each plant. This should help to close centres along with the ‘dark shed’ treatment.
How do you deal with the dreaded earwigs?
You need to maintain clean plots and surrounding areas so that earwigs have less places to hide and breed. Otherwise, twice a year mix a 10 times stronger dose than recommended of an insecticide such as Bug Clear by Scotts for example, mix in a jug, pour into a washing up liquid container and pour this down each cane as they can hide there. Also I spray dahlias every week with insecticide (Roseclear is my choice as combines insecticide and fungicide).”
If you want to see some of the most beautiful dahlias in the country including Paul’s, then a visit to the West Cornwall Dahlia Annual show is a must:
The West Cornwall Dahlia Club, the Main Show is on Sunday 16th August at Chacewater Garden Centre, Chacewater, Truro, Cornwall. Alternatively you can check out Paul’s website which is dedicated to dahlias.