Robert STEPHENSON

Coventry, England.

(A.K.A. Rupert the Fish)

Groundsman, wildlife and Poultry photography , Countryman, Dahlias, Doves .

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Dahlias                        

dahlia links page.      

WELCOME to my favourite flower page.

I have been growing DAHLIAS on and off for 25 years ,since I first served my apprenticeship with Coventry city councils parks department.

I hope to guide you through some of the stages in Dahlia growing in the U.K

  • The Dahlia was named after the Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl.
  • Its origins are from Mexico, where it is regarded as a half-hardy perennial plant.
  • Dahlias were first introduced into the U.K. by Lord Bute in 1789, and from their early beginnings the gardener has developed the huge and beautiful varieties we have to-day.

Dahlias are fairly easy to grow ,with a little hard work and preparation.

Firstly you need to prepare the ground well in the winter, digging it over well and add plenty of well rotted natural manure from the farm, dahlias seem to thrive on a rich soil with good water retention.

Dahlias will need careful storage during the winter to protect from frost damage.

If you have bought tubers from a shop or garden center or saved your own, you must store them in a cool ,dry shed or greenhouse for the winter, as they come from Mexico they are not frost resistant

The best way to store the tubers is in wooden boxes, packed in wood shavings and sprinkled with a sulphur powder to help prevent canker and fungal infections, check the tubers every few months to see they are o.k., if too dry you can dip them in water for a few minuets and then re-cover and pack away again.

you have a choice now of how to propagate your dahlias

in late january you can set your tubers on heat in a greenhouse and take cuttings , which produce better flowers , there are good sites on the web explaining this method in detail, click here for one such site

In early April you can remove the tubers from winter storage , i personaly divide my tuber clumps now if they are too large ,by now an odd shoot may have appeared. the soil you prepared over winter should have settled and be starting to warm up by now. Now is the time to plant the tubers out, dig a whole large enough to take the tuber and deep enough to cover it by about 4" of soil, firm in well and water. the next step is to add a wooden stake to support the plant as they can grow to 3 feet and 3 feet across, when planting out put at least 3 feet apart in all directions.

As the dahlias grow through out the summer, you will need to tie them back to the stake to support the large growth, you may want to remove some of the smaller stems and allow only 4 or 5 main stems to grow on ,producing specimen flowers. Also you must water them well every day to stop the stems going "woody" and hard, you just can not over water dahlias in the summer.

The plants should now be in full growth, a weekly spraying with a liquid plant food will help them feed the hundreds of flowers they will produce, and provided you look after them well you will get a fabulous show of flowers from July until the first frosts of autumn blacken the tops and its time to lift the tubers for winter storage.

Finally when the frost has blackened the top off, you must cut down the stems to about 9" ,and then lift the tubers carefully, turn the tubers upside down for about a week to drain excess moisture and then pack away as described above ready for next year I hope you have enjoyed this brief excursion into my dahlia growing , I have only covered it in minor detail, please feel free to mail me if you are interested.

 

This last photo shows the dahlia tubers cut and lifted in October/November, and dried as described, as you will notice the white is not mould, but a sulphur powder I sprinkle on the tubers to help prevent infections during storage. I shall inspect the tubers every month and check for rot and mould growth, removing any that are soft or affected.

This is only a beginners guide, for more in-depth information growing methods, showing etc see my dahlia links page.

 

 

 

 

 

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