Dahlias: Dignity and Instability

blackdahliaIn the language of flowers, dahlias are associated with dignity for their beautiful blooms and instability for their inability to thrive outside of their comfort zones as a year-long perennial.

Nevertheless, dahlias can be grown outside of zones 8, 9, 10 with a little work on your part by removing the bulbs in the fall and replanting them in the spring. They are worth the effort!

They come in a variety of colors and flower shapes. We have the black dahlia, and it is one of my favorite flowers in the garden! Dahlias also have medicinal qualities; in the past, the plant was used to treat rashes and diabetes. People also eat them although I never have.

How to Grow

  • In the spring after the soil reaches at least 60 degrees, pick a sunny spot in your garden. Dahlias love the morning sun, but they do need six to eight hours of sun each day. They also like a bit of a protected spot, which makes them excellent container plants as well.
  • Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball.
  • Mix in bone meal.
  • Place the tubers in the ground with the pointy end up, and the crowns just above the soil level.
  • Cover with soil and avoid watering until the plant begins to sprout.
  • Larger varieties of dahlias will need support, so if you have chosen a larger variety, add in stakes and tie the stems to the stakes.

Storage

  • Before the first frost, cut back the plant to about six inches and lift from the dirt.
  • Shake off the soil and hang the plant upside down to dry.
  • Store the plant and tubers in warm, dry place.
  • In the spring, separate the tubers from the plant, and replant!

If you’d rather not go to the trouble of storing them over the winter, you may always purchase new dahlias each year.  Either way you do it, the dahlia is a dazzling addition to any garden.

Happy Gardening!

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