Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Planting dahlias

I meant to do this post earlier in the year to encourage people to buy dahlia tubers - but then we sold out of them at the CL fair and I forgot until today when I planted up my own tubers.

Dahlia tubers look like mis-shaped potatoes grouped by strings around a central stalk. Every tuber must have a piece of stalk or it will not grow.

The shoots will develop at the join between the hangy down bits and the stem.

Plant the tuber with the stem uppermost into a large pot of ordinary potting compost.

Fill up the pot but leave the top of the stem above the surface of the compost.

Water well and put somewhere warm. I have put mine on a heated mat in the tunnel but on a smaller scale anywhere warm will work. If you put them into the dark make sure you check for sprouts every day or they will become weak and lanky.

Within a couple of weeks shoots will begin to develop. Only when this happens should you begin to water. Keep the plants inside until the frosts have passed and then gradually get them used to outside temperatures by letting them be outside for increasing periods of time


the flour loft said...

Hi Jane, am just about to embark on my first try at growing a few cactus dahlias and was delighted to see this post. Thanks for sharing your expertise and inspiring us with your beautiful flowers.

Gigibird said...

My father was a dahlia enthusiast( as well as lupins and fuchsias ) I have memories of him out in the greenhouse doing things with the tubers. I can also remember that earwigs were attracted to them.
It’s funny how flowers fall in and out of fashion because there was a time not so long ago they were frowned upon.

Alice said...

I am planning to plant a few this year - I am hoping that the hot colours will invigorate my borders in August. Can you recommend any particular varieties which are don't need staking and can cope with dryish conditions? I am thinking of Cardinal Richlieu to start with.
Thanks for the tulip tips - how have I managed until now?.

Jane said...

Yes it is funny how dahlias are back in fashion! I think that the breeders have been busy coming up with less garish colours and forms that work well within a border as well in rows on an allotment.

I grow a lot of Karma Dahlias - specially bred as cut flower dahlias - these have unparalleled vase life, stem strength and come in a range of good colours. they are difficult to get for the domestic gardener though. The varieties I grow in my border are "Chat Noir", "Rip City", "Kenora Macop" and "Tam-Tam" for the dark colours; "White Star" a creamy white; "Julie Jescott" an orange (but not as floriferous as some); "Orfeo", a purple.
All dahlias will do better in rich damp soil - I would say that if you want to grow them in dry conditions you should try to make a good water retaining area for them - you could dig a big planting hole and line it with wet newspaper in the way you do for runner beans, then add in compost or manure to the soil and water well, topping off with a mulch to keep the water in.

carolyn said...

Love Dahlia's and tried to grow some from seed last year, ended up with lots of healthy looking plants but only one flower. Didn't dig them up, hoping they might survive the winter but sadly nothing has appeared. Oh well, just have to try again.
How is Tim? Wish we could help but I already have 3 dogs and they are a bit boisterous to say the least, certainly not the sort of pack that you would want to spend your retirement with.

Jane said...

Carolyn - I wouldn't give up on your dahlias yet - I have had a poke around in last year's dahlia beds in the past few days - though the tubers are fine and healthy they haven't begun to sprout yet. I think that they may not do so until May (but then they race ahead as the tubers are so massive).

Yours may also be biding their time.

Thanks for your question about Tim. We are waiting until after his owner's funeral (I say we but in fact it has nothing to do with me - I am a kind of emergency foster home)to check that no friends or relations want him.

There have been a couple of offers - as long as he gets on with existing dogs - so hopefully he shall find his forever home soon.

He is very sweet - loves the kids and Jasmine and follows me around all day on his clip-clippy nails. Absolutely HATES cats though.