Dahlias in your garden

Dahlias are the national flower of Mexico, but they could be the queen of your garden. Luscious, flamboyant, but not fragrant, they can be as big as dinner plates, small and single or double and quilled. There are 20,000 cultivars to choose from. They grow from tubers which need to be lifted in fall for overwintering in a cool place (your refrigerator crisper at four to ten degrees Celsius), or you can raise them from seed to bloom in their first year.

Here are five tips to create the dream dahlias of your garden.

1. Close up. Dahlias like to be planted close to the surface rather than deep in the ground. Stay mindful of this when planting to achieve optimal results. Two inches depth is ideal.

2. Water cautiously. Dahlias don’t like to be watered a lot when initially planted. Once their sprouts begin growing, water deeply on a regular basis, two to three times per week.

3. Bring on the heat. Dahlias like it hot — the more sun the better! They need a minimum of eight hours of sun.

4. Deadhead. Remove spent blooms on a regular basis. Plants that are deadheaded produce more blooms than those that aren’t. It’s best to cut farther down the stalk versus just cutting off the flower head itself.

5. Stake out. Stake large-blooming dahlias to support their weight. Set the stake next to the dahlia tuber when planted. That way, you won’t damage a growing tuber later in the season.

– Amy Dube

Getting the biggest bloom

To encourage the largest blossom, pinch out the two smaller buds that will form on each stem. Keep only the central bud. Also
removed any small buds that may show themselves hiding in leaf axils lower down each flower stem.

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