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A how-to on planting dahlias

When you plant trendy dahlias in your garden during spring, you’ll be enjoying fireworks of colour until well into autumn. But if you’re an inexperienced dahlia planter, here’s a handy how-to.

Trendy

Dahlias used to be a bit out of fashion. Not anymore! Why are they so popular? It has to be their stunning flowers and their many buds - dozens and sometimes hundreds on a single plant - that make dahlias so desirable. And you can even encourage this profusion of flowers: the more fanatic you are about removing spent flowers, the more buds will be produced.

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Planting dahlias in four steps

Planting dahlias is a piece of cake. The perfect time for this is spring, once there’s no more risk of frost. Just follow these four steps.

Step 1

Choose a sunny place in the garden where your dahlias will really shine.

Since some dahlias reach a height of 2 metres while others are just 30 cm tall, give them a spot where their height will be appropriate for the rest of the planting.

Step 2

Break up the soil to loosen it thoroughly.

At the same time, remove any weeds and small stones so that your dahlia will feel right at home.

Step 3

Dig a hole in which the dahlia tuber will have plenty of room. Place the tuber into the hole with the stump of the old stem pointing upward. Cover the dahlia tuber with the soil you dug out.

Make sure not to bury the tuber very deeply since dahlias need to feel the warmth of the sun. Actually, they only have to be a few centimetres below the soil surface; you could even leave the crown beneath the old flower stem showing.

Step 4

Pour a generous amount of water over the dahlia you just planted. This will encourage the tuber to start producing roots.

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Care

The dahlia tuber will start growing as soon as it senses the warm rays of the sun. In a few weeks, the first shoots will emerge. About four to six weeks later (depending on the variety), the first flowers will appear. Water the plant whenever the weather has been very dry. Also cut away any spent flowers to encourage the plant to produce new buds. If wind or rain threaten to blow the plant over, provide support by tying it up to a cane or by using special ring supports for tall dahlias.

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Interesting facts:

  • Dahlias come in a wide range of types, from small and stunning in their simplicity to absolutely huge and brightly coloured. Dinnerplate dahlias produce the largest flowers that can sometimes reach 30 centimetres in diameter.
  • Dahlias are real magnets for butterflies, especially the single-flowered varieties that give these beautiful insects easy access to their nectar. 
  • Did you know that the tubers, leaves and flowers of dahlias are edible? Their petals make a very pretty garnish to a dish.
  • There are even black dahlias, the black colour being due to their higher concentration of anthocyanin.
  • Dahlias will also make a fabulous display in pots and other containers. For this purpose, use the dwarf varieties that won’t grow too tall.

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