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  • Writer's pictureJan Peterson

Dahlias - The Queen Of The Fall Season

Dahlias have been plentiful this season and even with early frosts, drought, and severe thunderstorms, they continue to show their resilience throughout the fall growing season.

What makes these flowers so popular? Their varieties, shapes and plethora of colors give designers many options for wedding work and outstanding arrangements. The rainbow of colors makes it hard to chose between the beautiful blossoms. Head sizes can range between 1-inch lollipop style pompoms, to giant 15-inch dinner plate size.

Courtesy of : Modwedding

When sunflowers, zinnias, and asters fade in the garden, dahlias continue to thrive. With a growing season lasting more than 120 days, dahlias begin blooming in early August and can bloom through mid-November before hard frosts occur.

Where to grow dahlias

Dahlias prefer moist, moderate climates, with 6-8 hours of full sun, and dislike extremely hot climates. Because they can grow up to 5 feet, you’ll want to plant them out of the wind, or use a support system such as netting or stakes. They also like rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soil, with a slightly PH level of 6.5-7.0.

They are winter hardy in planting zones 8-11 and are considered to be tender perennials in colder northern regions. If you live in zones 2-7 the tubers need to be dug up, stored in a cool dark place during the winter and divided and planted in late spring, when the ground temperature reaches 60°F (around the end of May). You can also start them earlier in containers, but not all plants do well this way. Most of Connecticut is 6, and southwest Connecticut is 7.

Some tips for planting dahlias

  • Choose tubers that are not wrinkled or rotten. The tubers should have pink eyes or buds and should show a bit of green.

  • Plant the tubers about 8 inches into the ground with the eyes or buds facing up. Make sure the holes are larger than the tuber so you can add some nutrients

  • Add some compost or peat moss into the soil and a generous handful of bonemeal.

  • For taller plants, space them about a foot apart, and shorter plants, place 3 feet apart.

  • Wait until the dahlia sprouts appear before watering the plant, as too much water will rot the tubers.

  • Dahlias should not be mulched, as mulch sometimes encourages slugs. Dahlias like the sun on their roots.

Want to learn more about dahlias? Enjoy this video tour from our resident horticulture specialist, dahlia farmer and owner of Rustle Floral Co., Kate Russell.

"If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing Double Dahlias in his garden"

-David W. Wolfe

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