Host: Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
One plant we should grow more of is the easy to care for dahlia today on Southern Gardening.
Growing dahlias is not complicated. A good rule to follow for getting started is plant your dahlia tubers directly into the garden when you plant tomatoes after there’s little chance of a frost. Dahlias planted this way will typically bloom from mid-summer through the fall season. If you want flowers earlier you can start tubers indoors under lights along with your tomato seeds about a month before transplanting. If you don’t want to start your own almost every garden center will have a good selection of blooming plants. Be sure to deadhead through the season as this will encourage more blooms as the season progresses. Collecting stems for indoor use is a great way to deadhead and it doesn’t seem like work. Dahlia are perennial and normal recommendations are to dig and store the tubers after the onset of cold weather. For dahlia grown in containers, prune the stems at the top of the growing mix and store in a cool, dry location. If growing in the ground prune the stems at ground level and mulch with about twelve inches of pine straw. Either way the following March dig up and divide the tubers and replant when you transplant your tomatoes. I prefer to use dahlias as annual color providing nothing special in terms of winter protection. I do this with most of the color plants I grow. This way I’m always surprised when plants do come back the following year. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.