Monty Don describes how to care for dahlias on Gardeners’ World
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Dahlias are a type of tuberous plant that are related to sunflowers and daisies. It’s only a few weeks until the start of spring, and you may already be thinking about tending to your garden.
Dahlias are known for their distinctive appearance and vibrant colours.
They come in a variety of different colours, and they range in size from two inches in diameter, up to around 15 inches.
When they’re given the optimum conditions to grow, your dahlias could reach up to five feet tall.
If you’re hoping to have the best possible dahlias, you needn’t start planting them in the garden just yet.
When to plant dahlias
Dahlias are a particularly tender plant, meaning they don’t react well to the colder mornings.
Ideally, you’ll plant them well after the frosty days, toward the end of spring.
The best time to plant dahlias would be toward the end of May for most parts of the UK.
If you live in Scotland, where it tends to be a bit cooler, you may be better off planting your dahlias at the start of June.
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The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said: “Plant dahlias on free-draining, lighter soils, where they are more likely to survive the winter.
“While they will grow on heavy soils, you are more likely to need to lift the tender tubers at the end of autumn as they would otherwise suffer when heavy ground gets colder and soggier in winter.
“All dahlias like a sunny site, ideally with space between them and their neighbours.
“If you are raising dahlias from seed, sow these in a propagator in early to mid-spring.”
Once you’ve planted your dahlias, you should consider adding a layer of organic matter to the soil, it added.
Space your tubers about two feet apart from each other, and around five inches deep.
The new shoots also provide ideal food for slugs, so always keep an eye out in its early growth.
After five or six weeks, your new dahlia shoots may need thinning.
You can break off any spindly growth on the shoot with just a single, sharp tug.
After a few months, you should find that your dahlias start to flower toward the end of summer and into autumn.
If they haven’t really bloomed, you should check to see if they’re getting enough sunlight.
Poor flowering – and lots of leaves – may also be caused by overfeeding with fertilisers, warned the RHS.
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