Dahlias: The darlings of your summer garden
Dahlias are a favourite among gardeners, loved for their distinctive colours and pom-pom like flowers. They are herbaceous plants with woody, hollow stems, and can grow to a height of between 20cm and 2m, depending on the type and cultivar. With over 30 stunning varieties to choose from, it’s no wonder these summer bloomers are popping up in gardens all over South Africa!
Growing Dahlias in the garden
The best time of year to plant locally-grown dahlia is late spring, just when you notice the winter and spring blooms starting to thin out. Choose a sunny patch for them in your garden, ideally one that receives shade during the hottest part of the day. You can plant dahlia tubers in any type of soil, just as long as the drainage is good. Sandy soil types work best, especially if they are rich in nutrients. If you plant your bulbs in late spring, the flowers should bloom in mid-to-late summer, with their best showcase happening in autumn and early winter.
Planting the tubers
1. Dig a hole about 6 to 8 inches deep.
2. Mix the dug up soil with well-matured manure, in a 50/50 proportion. Do not use fresh manure as it could burn or rot your dahlias.
3. Place a 5cm layer of the soil mixture at the bottom of the hole.
4. Above this layer, put in a 5cm layer of sand.
5. Put the tuber on the sand with the individual fingers spread out and the short, dry stalk pointing upwards.
6. Fill the hole with the remaining dug up soil.
7. Place a sturdy one-meter long stake next to the tuber to support your dahlia plant as it grows.
Caring for your Dahlias
We know it’s tempting to water your newly planted dahlia bulbs, but refrain from over watering until the plants have grown above the soil. You don’t want the tubers to rot! Once they are visible, water them for about 10 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. Use a low-nitrogen liquid fertiliser on your dahlia plants when they sprout, and then every 3 to 4 weeks from mid-summer to early autumn. Alternatively, Hadeco Bulb Food is a perfect solution to feed your dahlia with.
Dahlias in the home
Dahlias can make excellent pot plants. The dwarf varieties like Dahlia ‘Terrace Rumba’ grow well in containers, and are often placed on patios and balconies to brighten up the space. They also look lovely as cut flowers in a vase – and the extra benefit of dahlia plants is the more flowers you cut, the more you get!
Doll it up with Dahlias
Keen to plant some dahlias yourself? You have the know-how, you just need the tuber bulbs! Head to our online store to explore our range of dahlia bulbs – we say the more colourful varieties you include the better! If you order your bulbs in time for a late spring planting, prepare for a summer bloom that will blow you away.
Read our Dahlia Do's and Don'ts here.