The dahlias are now looking wonderful.
These great favourites will flower all through the summer right up until the first frosts.
While other plants seem to be late to come into flower, those we planted from cellophane packs in February and potted into pots in the greenhouse and then planted out in late May, are already coming into flower.
But if you are behind in your garden this year and love these plants, it isn’t too late to buy pots of dahlias of all kinds at garden centres.
They will be in flower so if you have a particular colour in mind you will probably find it because the dahlia family has the widest array of colours of any tuberous plant and what’s more, they are very easy to grow.
Dahlias are invaluable for the summer border so if you have a gap or two a dahlia will fill it.
Pam and I love the water lily types, in particular Gloire Van Heemsteed which is yellow and looks just like a water lily.
Dahlias will grow anywhere and they even love the shade if they are watered regularly, but they do grow much taller in the shade.
In the garden each flower will last for about a week before it dies and it is very important to keep dead-heading as the blooms fade.
If they are cut and put into vases indoors they will last only five days, but the great thing is that you can go outdoors and pick more to fill that vase.
Do you like the ones called poms or do you prefer those that look like water lillies, or is the zingy sharp-edged type, which is called the cactus variety, your favourite?
Three weeks ago, I planted a row of the rounded types called poms. They were grown from seed in Rebecca and David’s plot at my allotment and they are growing really well because they get watered every evening.
Last night I gave them a good soaking with water and then looked at each plant to see where the flower buds were and decided they needed to be disbudded. This is a very easy job.
Examine the top of the flower stem and you will see a large flower bud at the top. Simply remove the little buds either side of this one and then take out the sideshoots just below the top bud.
Once the flower with a nice long stem is cut to take indoors, give the plant a good drink and more flowers will soon come along.
Do I have to feed?
Oh yes. Give the dahlias a good soak adding Maxicrop Complete plant food about once a week.
As I said – dahlias are invaluable for the summer border, in patio containers or as cut flowers, often flowering until the first frosts. With many excellent recent introductions, they offer a wide range of flower types, often with very showy, double forms in warm vibrant colours and they are enjoying a much-deserved return to popularity.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Gladioli corms are now available at half-price at several garden centres. Plant them now and they will be in bloom in October.
Plant them in groups of five because planted this way they will give a good splash of colour in the autumn.