Do start off dahlia cuttings: If you want to take cuttings it's time to get your tubers sprouting! Start them off as soon as you receive them by placing them in large pots or deep trays with a generous helping of a general purpose compost. Partly fill your container to half cover the tuber and water (without allowing the water inside the tuber). When the shoots are around 8cm use a sharp knife to cut them away from the crown just above where they join the tuber. Trim off any growth under the top pair of leaves, dip in hormone rooting powder then pot up using John Innes No.2. As the stems develop, pinch out any growth from the middle of the cutting to help create a bushy plant. Harden off before planting out around May. Do keep an eye out for slugs and snails that will feast on your young plants.
- Do care for your soil: Healthy soil is the key to all good growing so take some time to enrich yours before the spring gets started. Dig in plenty of well-rotted farmyard manure or leaf mould and, if your soil tends to be heavy, add some sharp sand or grit.
- Don't cut back perennials: It's still too early to cut back the old growth from perennial plants. Leave the old growth to protect the new emerging shoots until early spring.
- Do move shrubs: If you have any shrubs in the wrong place, now is the time to move them while they're still dormant.
- Do deal with pests: Look out for any pests that have been hibernating and destroy them before they have a change to breed and cause havoc.
- Don't use old compost: Old compost is a favourite hiding place for vine weevil larvae that destroy plants by munching on their roots. Clean post with jays fluid to ensure there are no germs left behind and fill with fresh compost.
- Do remove weeds: Emerging weeds can be pulled up as they start to appear to prevent them from sowing seeds and becoming an invasive problem over the summer months.
Peter Nyssen 31st January 2018
Peter Nyssen 6th March 2015
Dahlias will grow in most soil types but are best planted in fertile, well-drained soil. Plant them outside from the end of April after the chance of frost has gone. Ensure they are in a spot that receives full sun and plant around 15cm deep adding well-rotted organic matter.
Provide protection from slugs for your young plants to stop them feasting on the tender, fresh shoots. It is also a good idea to ward off earwigs which are fond of young plants. Simply fill small pots with straw and put on them on top of canes near your dahlias. The earwigs will shelter in the pots during the day and you can clear these little fellows out in the late afternoon.
When the dahlias are around 30 cm high, pinch out the growing tips to encourage the plants to branch out and produce more flowers. Also remove any stems that look weak. For stronger stems and longer flowering, pinch out the buds that develop in the base (axel) of the stem. Larger dahlias will need staking. Always remove the flowers as soon as they show signs of fading in order to promote more flower production.
Keep your dahlias well watered during the summer months and feed every couple of weeks with high potash feed as the flowers appear.
In winter allow the first hard frost to turn the dahlias black. Cut them down to around 15cm then carefully lift them from the ground. Gently shake off any excess soil and turn upside down on paper to allow the water to seep from the tubers. After a few weeks they will be completely dry. At this point, shake loose any remaining soil and dust with sulphur to protect them from mould and mildew. Store in a frost free place in a container filled with dry to moist peat or sand for winter.
Peter Nyssen 5th February 2015
Now is the time to start dahlias into early growth for cuttings. Plant your tubers in trays of damp compost covering just under half the tuber and let shoots grow to 3 to 5 cm. At this point you can divide the tuber into portions, making sure you have roots and shoots on each individual section. Pot each section separately using a good free draining compost like John Innes No.1. This method will produce several smaller dahlia plants from your original tuber.
Alternatively, you can take basal cuttings from your dahlia tubers. This method will yield a smaller plant in the first year but will not compromise the vigour of the existing tuber. To do this, take a single, strong shoot and, with a clean sharp knife, cut it away from the mother plant making sure you take a small sliver of tuber with each one. Cut away the lower leaf and dip the cuttings into hormone rooting powder before planting them in free draining compost like John Innes No.2. Keep the cuttings warm until the roots are formed (this takes around two to three weeks). Once the roots are formed you can pot them in to individual pots.
Plant your dahlias, propagated or purchased new from our wide range, out into the garden from around mid-April after the chance of frost has gone.
Peter Nyssen 5th December 2014
Dahlias are one of the best value plants available and will flower all summer (depending on the variety) if cared for properly. Their diversity of colour and shape are a real winner for every garden and a gift your family or friends can enjoy for months on end. Below are our top dahlia planting and care tips. Do let us know if you have any additional handy hints so we can add them to our website to share with other enthusiasts.
1. Plant dahlia tubers at a minimum depth of 15cm adding good quality compost or manure to the soil especially around the roots to help with moisture retention.
2. Dahlias can not withstand cold so plant them in the ground after the frosts or in sheltered pots ready to transplant when the soil temperature rises.
3. Always stake the larger varieties as soon as you plant the dahlia tubers. This will help keep the dahlias from rocking in windy areas and encourage long, straight stems.
4. Dahlias love sun, don’t plant in the shade or you will loose the flower and end up with leggy plants.
5. Dahlias are hungry plants and will need feeding regularly with high potash feed and water regularly. Do not use a nitrogen fertiliser as this will also restrict flower production.
6. Always pinch out the side shoots of your dahlias when the plant is around 15-20cm this encourages the plant to produce a good bushy structure and many more flowers.
7. In the autumn, allow the frost to turn the growth black then lift the dahlia tubers and trim the growth. Turn upside down on paper to drain any excess water and allow to dry for a few days. Finally, dust the tubers with a fungicide and store in shallow boxes or trays with dry sand or peat free compost around the roots. Keep in a frost free dry place.