There is nothing difficult about growing dahlias. These flower-producing machines thrive almost everywhere and require little to no attention. Simply plant the tubers in spring and enjoy months of big, brightly-colored blossoms. Here are 8 expert tips to help you enjoy the very best results.
1. Know Your Tubers
Dahlias sprout from buds that are formed in the fall. These buds are located at the base of the stem, just above the tubers. The tubers themselves do not produce sprouts -- they are food storage vessels that help fuel the plant's early growth.
Dahlias may be purchased two ways: as single tubers with a bud attached or as a clump of tubers around a stem.
5. Watering and Fertilizing
Dahlias grow best when they receive a consistent supply of water. Drip irrigation is ideal, as it directs moisture down to the root zone while keeping the foliage dry. Mulching around the base of the plants helps reduce moisture loss.
Dahlias are hungry plants and grow better when they are fertilized. Apply a granular all-purpose fertilizer at planting time and a liquid fertilizer once a month throughout the growing season.
6. Controlling Insects and Disease
Discourage disease by keeping dahlia foliage as dry as possible. Water deeply once or twice a week, allowing the top inch of soil dry out in between. Clip off the bottom 12” of foliage to encourage good air circulation.
Slugs and snails love eating young dahlia foliage. Sluggo Plus is an effective organic control when it is applied early and refreshed often. Earwigs are another troublesome dahlia pest. Like slugs and snails, they prefer cool, moist conditions and can damage buds, flowers, and foliage. Keep the area around your dahlias clear of spent flowers and foliage, and avoid using leaves or straw as mulch. This will give earwigs fewer places to hide and breed.
7. Be Generous
Dahlias are among the world’s best cut flowers and it takes just a few stems to make an impressive bouquet. Harvesting flowers are good for the plants and encourage them to continue flowering month after month. Delight family and friends, neighbors and coworkers with the beauty of homegrown dahlias.