Prepare for Your Dahlia Garden in the Upcoming Year Without Feeling Overwhelmed

by Andrew Wright
Dahlia Gardening Tips

My fascination with dahlias has long been confined to admiring them in others’ gardens. Their vibrant presence always caught my attention, yet the thought of the entire process – planting, staking, uprooting, and winter storage – seemed daunting.

However, as my gardening experience grows, so does my appreciation for their stunning beauty and adaptability.

Dahlias are incredibly diverse, boasting a range of sizes, colors, and flower shapes, making each cultivar distinct. The variety is astounding, including anemone, cactus, peony, orchid, and waterlily types, as well as single, double, and dinner plate-sized blooms.

With over 42 species and countless hybrids, there’s undoubtedly a dahlia to enhance any garden setting.

These flowers have a unique ‘cut-and-come-again’ blooming pattern, encouraging continuous flower production from summer to fall, even as you regularly pick them for bouquets.

“Dahlias are surprisingly easy to cultivate,” says Lauren Sikorski, co-owner of Sow-Local, a boutique flower farm in Oakdale, New York. They demand some attention and specific growing conditions but don’t require expert gardening skills.

Dahlias thrive in cool conditions and well-drained soil, avoiding heat and overly moist roots. Sikorski warns against clay soils, recommending the addition of compost for better drainage.

In cooler climates, dahlias are typically seasonal, removed before winter. They’re hardy in USDA zones 8-10, where they bloom late into the year. In these warmer zones, planting occurs in early fall, with the plants needing mulching and occasional trimming for repeated blooming cycles. However, in the hottest areas, some shade is beneficial.

Conversely, in zones 7 and below, dahlias require post-frost harvesting. Sikorski suggests waiting for the foliage to blacken, then carefully uprooting the tubers. Clean, dry, and label them – especially if you have multiple varieties – for easier identification in the spring.

Sikorski stores tubers in cardboard boxes at 40-45 degrees in dry conditions. Alternatively, some gardeners use perforated bags filled with vermiculite or similar materials for storage.

Inspect stored tubers monthly, rehydrating any that appear shriveled. Discard any that don’t recover or show signs of rot.

Come spring, plant the tubers in sunny spots after frost danger has passed. For earlier blooms, start them indoors in pots, then transfer to the garden post-last frost. Use stakes to support the growing stems, adjusted to the height of the variety planted.

To enjoy dahlias next year, order tubers now. Most suppliers will dispatch them in spring, but gardeners in warmer regions might need to store them for fall planting.

Jessica Damiano, author of the acclaimed Weekly Dirt Newsletter and regular gardening columns for The AP, shares her expertise in these pieces. Subscribe for weekly gardening insights.

For more AP gardening stories, visit bigbignews.net/gardening.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Dahlia Gardening Tips

What Varieties of Dahlias Can I Plant in My Garden?

Dahlias come in a wide array of sizes, colors, and shapes, including anemone, cactus, peony, orchid, waterlily types, and even large dinner plate dahlias.

How Do Dahlias Bloom Throughout the Season?

Dahlias exhibit a ‘cut-and-come-again’ blooming pattern, meaning the more you cut them for bouquets, the more they will bloom, from summer through fall.

Are Dahlias Difficult to Grow?

Despite their elaborate appearance, dahlias are not particularly difficult to grow. They require some time and specific growing conditions but not advanced gardening skills.

What Soil Conditions Do Dahlias Prefer?

Dahlias thrive in well-drained soil and do not do well in heat or soggy conditions. They particularly dislike clay soil, which can be improved with compost.

How Should I Store Dahlia Tubers Over Winter?

After the first frost, clean and dry the tubers, label them for identification, and store them in a dry place at 40-45 degrees. Check and lightly water them monthly.

When Should I Plant Dahlias for Optimal Growth?

In cooler zones, plant dahlias after the last frost has passed. In warmer zones, plant tubers in early fall and provide mulching for repeated blooming cycles.

How Do I Support Growing Dahlia Plants?

Insert stakes 4-to-6 feet tall, depending on the variety, near the tubers to support and protect the plants as they grow.

More about Dahlia Gardening Tips

  • Dahlia Care and Cultivation
  • Choosing the Right Dahlia Varieties
  • Seasonal Dahlia Planting Guide
  • Dahlia Tubers Storage Techniques
  • Dahlia Blooming Patterns Explained
  • Soil Preparation for Dahlias
  • Dahlia Plant Support Methods

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UrbanGardener November 13, 2023 - 4:29 pm

helpful tips! but, i struggle with space in my tiny yard. Can dahlias grow in containers? would love to see some advice on that.

FloraFanatic November 13, 2023 - 5:53 pm

interesting read, but I think you missed a bit on pest control for dahlias? they can be pretty sensitive to bugs and stuff in my experience…

GardenerJoe November 13, 2023 - 10:14 pm

wow, great article on dahlias! didnt know there were so many types. gotta try some in my garden this year, hope they grow as pretty as they sound!

BloomingBella November 13, 2023 - 10:54 pm

Love dahlias! this article captures their beauty and diversity so well. but isn’t it better to plant them a bit earlier for longer blooms? atleast thats what worked for me last season

GreenThumb74 November 14, 2023 - 2:58 am

nice article! but, storing tubers can be trickier than it sounds. lost half of mine last winter 🙁 gotta be really careful with the moisture levels and temp


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