All about dahlias with Guyton-based gardener Jamie Marsh

All about dahlias with Guyton-based gardener Jamie Marsh

In his column dedicated to Little Jimmy, Jimmy Marsh discusses flower growing…

This week I will talk about the dahlias that I grow in the plot of land for cutting them up and bringing them into the house. It also attracts beautiful pollinators.

I think most people will know what a dahlia is, but some may not, so I'll tell you all about it.

Dahlia is beautiful

Dahlias are hardy perennials in their native Mexico, where they thrive in the northern mountains. They are known for their stunning flowers. From midsummer until frost, flowers will bloom ranging from small, petal-like, button-like blooms to blooms larger than a dinner plate that are colorful and puffy, in almost every shape, size, and color you can possibly think of in between.

Dahlias are my favorite when it comes to floral additions to the garden and allotments, probably because they are easy to grow and the display they put on is so stunning. Unfortunately, they are certainly not hardy here in the UK, in fact they are classed as tender perennials.

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If the foliage is exposed to the slightest touch of frost, it will turn black and wilt almost immediately, which is exactly what should happen, but it is what is happening under the soil that worries us.

Jimmy is working on his dahlias

These amazing plants grow from bulb-like tubers that can survive the winter like perennials. But it is also certain that tubers are affected by the elements above ground.

That's why I ask: “Raise or leave.”

There are several theories about this process

A lot of people cut the stems a few inches off the ground and leave them as they are, which is what I did, mainly before I had any real interest in the garden, and to be honest, I probably wouldn't have noticed it if I had done the latter.

Next, you need to do the same thing as above, cut the stems but put a good layer of mulch over the top of the tuber to try to insulate it from the frost, but one of the problems with this method is the main reason we usually cover it is to keep it in moisture, Which is definitely not what we want with a dahlia tuber. If the tuber stays wet over the winter, it will likely rot in the ground, so I don't use this method.

I think the following method is probably best if you want to keep the tubers in the ground.

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Doing the same as the last two methods, leaving a few inches above the ground and then covering the tubers with straw, should keep them frost-free and as free-draining as possible.

But what I have done for the last two years is again the same as all the other methods, but trim the stems leaving a few inches and then I tie a sticker on that stem with the name Al-Dahila. So I know what it is, using a large garden fork, leaving plenty of space around the tuber so I don't damage it, I start picking it out of the ground, putting the fork all around the tuber, slowly lifting it up.

Depending on the age of the dahlia, the tubers can vary greatly in size. Last year I had a dahlia that had not been out of the ground for five years and the tuber was absolutely huge. Once the tuber is lifted, remove as much soil as possible and rinse it off with the hose without leaving any soil on it. Once the tuber is nice and clean, you'll need to find a place where you can leave it to dry.

I dry mine upside down so any moisture can drip from the hollow stems.

After about a week, make sure the tuber is completely dry, then inspect it carefully to see if there is any damage. If there are any damaged parts of the tuber, now is the time to use a sharp knife and cut off that part of the tuber so that it does not rot while in storage.

Therefore, dahlia tubers can be divided very easily to create additional free plants. Sometimes, where the tuber split will be quite obvious, but if it's not, take a closer look and you'll see little eyes sticking out from the top of the tubers. These are the growing points, and as long as each part of the tuber has a growing point, another dahlia plant will grow.

Once you divide your tuber, you need to store it. What I generally do is get some sawdust and either a large box or bucket, then bag it up and surround it with the sawdust. Store them in a cool, frost-free, dark place and they will happily sit in this box until spring.

In the middle of winter, I will look around the box and make sure the tubers aren't rotting. If there are any rotten parts, I just trim them off;

When spring comes, I usually plant the tubers in large pots and some compost, give them good water and leave them in the greenhouse while they are still clearly frost-free. This gives them a good start ready to go into the ground as soon as any chance of frost has passed,

But you can wait until the frost passes and plant them directly in the garden if you wish. Then watch it over the next few months as it blossoms and flourishes

If you have any questions feel free to email me at jamieslittleallotment@gmail.com

    (Tags for translation)Opinion

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