The Beautiful and Enchanting Dahlia
All the Positives of a Dahlia
Very few garden plants can compare with a dahlia if you pick specific varieties. There are so many shapes, colors and sizes, that they will please and delight anyone that loves variety and color in their flower garden.
What's great about Dahlias, is they not only look fantastic in a garden, but some can be grown in containers, and who doesn't know the beautiful cut flower displays they make.
Of course most the time you see those flowers floating in water, they are also dahlias, so the uses are almost endless for them.
Another great advantage of having dahlias, is they're very low maintainence, and even most lazy gardener can include them and they'll look good and survive without much attention.
Decide what you want out of your Dahlias
There are a couple of ways to use Dahlias, and depending on that decision, will determine how you grow them.
If your major purpose is to grow them for an ongoing source of cut flowers, just leave them in the ground and mulch them late in the fall under about four inches cover. Take into consideration the zone you live in to determine if this is feasible.
Assuming it can be done in your zone or region, then just remove the mulch and spring after the frost is over, and you should be ready to go.
Late Summer and Fall
If your main purpose is to have color in your garden in the latter part of summer or the fall, then its best to take them out as winter arrives, because they will be overcome in the spring and summer by fast-growing plants.
Be prepared if you lose some
Even with the best preparation we never know how our dahlia tubes survive until we see how they begin to grow in the spring. In that case, order some possible replacements beforehand have them planted in a container or placed in a crate of some sort which included a liner filled with dampened compost with the stems just barely showing. Put them in a warm, light place until they're ready to plant.
What varieties to plant?
There is no way to answer this question of course, since everyone has their favorite colors and styles.
Some people like solid colors and feel those that include numerous color may be too busy, as Dahlias have so much character as it is.
Others like all the zebra looks, and the multi-colored hybrids which can be dazzling, but also overwhelm.
In the end, we plant flowers to enjoy, and each person has their own tastes. If we enjoy how they look, there's no reason to care what anyone else thinks.
Other than what may grow better in our zones, it comes down to what we like.
Considerations when planning
A big thing to keep in mind with growing dahlias in a bed is to be aware of when each variety will bloom and their height. To me, that, more than color will determine the look and feel of your flower bed, and if these things aren't considered, it could look disproportionate and strange.
Those which bloom earlier you'll want to have in a place where they can be seen and enjoyed, so don't hide them somewhere out of the way.
While dahlias, as mentioned earlier, are for the most part maintenance free, there is one thing that must be done to enhance their strengths, and that is to stake them.
Using stakes and some string should do the trick there, to protect them from driving wind and rain. Unstaked dahlias can look very poorly, even if they have gorgeous flowers on them.
The exception to this is smaller dahlias which can be grown in containers.
Saving them for next year
If you decide to dig your dahlias up and store them, then dig up your tubers and put them in a box to dry, where the frost won't get them.
When spring planting comes along, just plant them in the ground and they'ready to go.