Dahlias are a hot-ticket item in the flower garden, lauded for the brilliant clarity of their colour.
Get creative in matching, or contrasting, dahlia colours to other tones in your flower garden, and use their height to create tiers of colour: Use pretty flower supports rather than utilitarian tomato stakes and dahlias will have you swooning.
Spider dahlias are tall growing for the back of the border. Photo - Galina Gutarin/Shutterstock.com
Follow these steps to success
1: Choose a sunny, protected area away from strong winds as these will snap the brittle stems. Dahlias are generally quite tall, well-suited to the back of the garden bed, but make sure they are within reach for picking.
2: Incorporate lots of organic matter, compost and cow manure into the soil before planting.
3: Plant the tubers 10-15cm deep making sure that the crown points the right way up. Strong stakes should be carefully placed around your tuber at planting time to offer support to the developing stems. Your new plants will emerge and grow very quickly. Mulching will conserve water over the hot summer months.
Photo - Kisialiou Yury/Shutterstock.com
4: Tie the stems to support with soft string and keep doing so while the plant makes active growth. The canopy becomes very heavy, which is the reason for the strong support frame. Flower buds will form at the end of summer and you will have an incredible number of blooms through late summer and autumn. Keep cutting the flowers to encourage more. Water with a liquid fertiliser for increased flowers.
5: Cool weather will bring flower production to a halt. Once the foliage has gone yellow and died back, you can prune back to just above ground level for the dormant winter period.
6: Dahlias can be lifted and divided every two years or so. Label the removed tubers, and store them in a cool, dry place. When spring comes around you can replant. If your winter climate is cold and wet with boggy soil that is poorly drained, it's advisable to lift and store them each year to prevent them rotting.
Photo - Videowokart/Shutterstock.com
* Dahlias are hungry plants, be sure to feed over summer with pelletised manure such as organic life or Sudden Impact for Roses.
* Mix dahlias with other bedding perennials for best effect. When combined with roses, iris and salvias they really make an impact.