Dahlia Days Begin Now by Lew Whitney

//Dahlia Days Begin Now by Lew Whitney

Dahlia Days Begin Now by Lew Whitney

For summer flowers, there is nothing better than the Dahlia family. Even though I am writing this in January, now is the time to start looking for Dahlias from tubers.  You can wait until March 1 to plant your tubers, but now is when you will find a best selection on the shelves at Rogers Gardens.

I first fell in love with Dahlias in the early 70s. While traveling in Europe, I stumbled upon, on the shores of the Danube, a twenty-foot wooden sky blue skiff that some creative gardener had filled with Dahlias. The huge flowers, in a riot of colors against the blue of the skiff and the dark of the river, branded a picture in my memory that I will never forget. Dahlias produce more flowers, in more sizes, shapes and colors, per dollar spent on tubers than any other plant I know. Additionally, the tubers can be removed in the fall and stored until next March at which time they can be divided and replanted. Yes, the tubers multiply prolifically so you can have more plants for yourself or to share with friends.


The tubers are purchased in packages as shown below.

Here is what you will find inside the package.

Dahlias are planted with the points of the tubers down and the remains of the old stems on top with two or three inches of soil above the tubers.

You can plant the tubers directly into your garden soil or, as I do, plant them into temporary containers for eventual transplanting.

As written in former Blogs, I have wretched soil in my garden and grow all my flowering plants in containers. This picture shows my temporary Dahlia containers, just planted, waiting their turn in the big containers that now contain my Sweet Pea Farm. When the sweet peas run out of gas, I will remove them and plant the Dahlias which, by then, will be up and running with lots of roots and foliage.

Dahlias all have their own names which are chosen by the hybridizer. In order to keep track of my dahlias, I put plastic name tags with the tubers and plants. It’s pretty easy to become an enthusiast. I have twenty different varieties and every March try out a couple of new ones. Since Dahlias make great cut flowers, you can also choose colors that work together in bouquets or that compliment the interior of your home.

Here are several of my favorites.  At Rogers Gardens, there is a large poster near the Dahlias featuring some of my choices, including most of those listed below. Be sure to say hello while you’re shopping.

Café au Lait: Huge creamy flowers with subtle shades of pink and yellow.

Snow Country: Strong growing white that mixes with all other colors.

Sky Angel: This one was new to me last year and has already become one of my favorites, lavender and white flowers.

Babylon Red: As bright and pure a red as you can find.

Prince of Orange: Some people avoid orange, but for summer color this one is hard to beat.

Arabian Nights: Deep, deep crimson red. Mixes beautifully with Prince of Orange in bouquets.

So, whether you are an expert gardener or a novice, plant a big bite of summer color in your garden now and enjoy the results in June, July and August.

By |2014-01-30T17:47:30+00:00January 30th, 2014|Gardening|2 Comments

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  1. Laura April 21, 2014 at 1:27 am - Reply

    I see that you grow dahlias in containers. I can’t seem to get mine to grow in pots. I’d love any tips you have!

  2. Ron Vanderhoff April 21, 2014 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura,

    We grow many, many dahlias in containers. Of course, we sell a couple thousand dahlias in pots here at Roger’s Gardens every spring. But in addition, several of our nursery staff and management grow their dahlias almost exclusively in containers. In fact, the person who wrote this article is a big advocate of dahlias in containers, which is where he grows all of his.

    So, if YOU’RE not having much success we need to find out why. First, be sure you are using a large enough container. The tubers can be started in small two gallon/10 inch or so containers, but once they get growing they will need to be stepped up into a much more comfortably sized pot. I would suggest something that is about 18-20 inches across the top and nearly as deep. Dahlias are also gluttons for nutrition as well, especially when growing in containers, so get onto a really aggressive feeding programs and don’t let up until they begin to fade away in the late summer.

    Finally, be sure all the other basics are being met – good quality potting soil (not planting mix), a bright and sunny area, regular watering, etc. Lastly, be sure you are starting with high quality, disease free tubers.

    Try it again Laura. Dahlias are too amazing to give up on.

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