DAHLIA

These come in a range of flower shapes, styles and colours and are one of the most popular late summer plants. Border dahlias are named varieties propagated by cuttings while bedding dahlias are smaller and usually grown from seed.

Suitable site and soil. Dahlias need a sunny position and well-drained soil. Give border dahlias 110gm – 4oz per sq.m. Of bonemeal when planting. For bedding and border dahlias dig in well-rotted manure the previous autumn.

Cultivation and care. Plant tubers of border dahlias in spring 10cm – 4in deep. Put stakes in position before planting. Pinch out leading shoots one month after planting. In autumn, 60 let tops become frost blackened, then cut down stems and lift tubers for frost-free storage.

Propagation Place tubers in 50 – 50 moist peat and sand in early spring with crowns above the surface. When the buds begin to swell, divide the tubers with a sharp knife. Sow bedding dahlias in late winter in boxes, germinate at 15°C – 60°F, prick out into individual pots, plant in late spring.

Recommended varieties. There are too many border dahlias to list but the good for planting with other herbaceous plants are the peony-flowered kinds such as ‘Bishop of Llandaff and ‘Orange Flora’. Bedding dahlias: seed strains ‘Early Bird Mixed’ and ‘Redskin’ are easy to grow and germinate.

Pests and diseases. Grey mouid and sclerotinia rot can affect border kinds. Aphids and earwigs can be a problem.

OVERWINTERING TUBERS

After frost has discoloured the foliage, lift the tubers carefully and leave upside down for a week while water stored in the stems drains out. Keep the tubers in a box just covered with peat where they will not be damaged by frost.

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